A few years ago there was a dream where thousands of libraries all over the US and Canada would be able to loan out e-readers to patrons, in addition to eBooks. The stark truth is a rude awakening, as only 32% of libraries have one in circulation, which is a decrease of 7% last year.
Library Journal in conjunction with Freading issued their annual Ebook Usage in U.S. Public Libraries report. They spoke to 538 libraries all over the US and apparently tablets and smartphones are replacing e-readers. 13% of respondents said that their library had plans to acquire more dedicated e-readers, and 17% said that they planned to replace broken device. 55% said they have no plans to invest in dedicated readers anymore.
2014 was the first year ever that tablets truly overtook dedicated e-readers as the device of choice to borrow audiobooks, newspapers, magazines and eBooks. 84% of respondents said that their library’s patrons were using tablets such as the Apple iPad, Kindle Fire, or Google Nexus tablets, while 78% said that patrons were using dedicated e-reader devices such as the Kindle, Kobo or Nook. This compares to 66% who said patrons were using tablets for eBooks in 2012, and 90% who said patrons were using dedicated e-readers.
“Tablets will likely continue to take over, as they can access a wider variety of content, from ebooks to streaming video, to music, to audiobooks, to the Internet in general,” the report notes. “The killer app for the earliest dedicated ereaders like the Kindle was the reflective display which was ‘as easy to read as paper.’ Well, these days, people are more used to reading on screens than on paper, and backlit screens have improved so that older eyes can read even smartphone screens with minimal squinting.”
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.