Right now in the USA there is said to be over 21 million e-readers in circulation and many libraries are seeing a boom period in ebook borrowing. Many librarians are not stocking books on the shelves anymore and saving money in the process.
The American Library Association Conference is wrapping up in New Orleans and the unilateral consensus is that libraries all over North America are seeing significant cutbacks in their funding. It is no secret that libraries are seeing a decline and most often are a target when city counsels are trying to slash money from a budget.
Many libraries are turning to services such as Overdrive and the upcoming 3M Cloud Lending Service. There are plenty of new services that libraries can tap into for content distruburion such as the new Axis 360 Program debuted over the weekend.
If you are familiar with ebooks you should know there is a significant amount of savings when you buy the electronic version over the tangible one. Many new hardcovers range in price from $25.00 to $40.00 for a new release, where the ebook version is normally $10.00 to $12.99. It makes sense for avid readers to go with the electronic format to save money and libraries are starting to be swayed as well.
Library lending is not new and some have been doing it for over 5 or 6 years. Long before the Kindle e-reader was a figment of the imagination libraries were peddling in the electronic format. In that time ebook formats have been more refined and the proliferation of e-readers is stimulating the borrowing from libraries. Many library industry professionals we chatted with told us that most county libraries are only in the last year doing the ebook lending/borrowing system.
“Everybody got these e-book readers and came to the public libraries and said, ‘I want the e-books,'” said Christine Lind Hage, a Michigan librarian who serves on an e-book task force for the American Library Association. “A good library is going to have to adapt. You can’t stick your head in the sand and say we’re just going to go with print.”
There was some interesting conversations heard around the conference this week and many librarians were unsure on how the physical book landscape will look in ten years due to the accelerated maturing of the ebook industry.
We heard some thought provoking thoughts interviewing various IT managers who attended ALA. Some mentioned that users are looking to donate their ebooks to the library but are turned down. Also on how ebooks are a better investment because they do not degrade like tangible books do. Finally many people were hoping that Simon & Schuster and eventually come around and offer their books for lending.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.