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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Library Journal' Says E-Book Lending is Exploding

Public libraries initially dipped their toes into digital lending several years ago on PC's and e-readers ... Now they are upping their game and getting into the mobiles: smartphones and tablet computers. Apps are beginning to flow!

The popularity of these devices has created a downpour of new demand for digital lending.

Reporter Roger Yu gets into some interesting growth statistics and projections in this insightful article for USA Today:

Libraries ramp up e-book lending

Libraries nationwide are finding more ways to go mobile.

After a tentative foray into digital lending on PCs and e-readers several years ago, public libraries are opening the next chapter for smartphones and tablet computers.

The movement kicked into high gear in September when Amazon finally turned on its Kindle for 11,000 local libraries, triggering a flood of new users. App developers are also working with libraries to enable book lovers to borrow on their smartphones.

"With more devices for consumers to try, they're going to get better," says Christopher Platt of the New York Public Library. "And the e-reading experience will get better."

The evolution is playing out amid some challenges, including an ongoing squabble between eager-to-grow libraries and publishers that fear copyright infringement and losing money on digital distribution, their fastest-growing segment of business.

Some large publishers — such as Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hatchette — refuse to sell to libraries, thus limiting the availability of popular titles.

Still, customers' appetite for e-book lending is growing unabated. According to Library Journal, public libraries increased their offerings by 185% this year. E-books will account for 8% of their materials budget in five years, it says.

The New York Public Library has quadrupled its e-book budget since 2009 and plans to spend $1 million this year, Platt says. The Seattle Public Library's e-book circulation grew by 92% in 2010, says Kirk Blankenship, its electronic resources librarian.

Some new developments will accelerate the growth pace. Among them:

Kindle agreement. Unlike the rival Barnes & Noble Nook or Sony Reader, Amazon has refused to play ball with libraries on its Kindle until a few weeks ago.

When Amazon finally did e-book lending on the Kindle and app, the rocket in circulation was quick, says Mary Dempsey of the Chicago Public Library. The New York and Seattle library systems say their e-book lending has risen by more than 30% since Kindle's agreement.

Smartphone options. Reading options for smartphones and tablet computers are emerging quickly. Kindle's app works on both Apple's devices and the Android operating system.

Overdrive, a large e-book distributor for libraries, released its app for e-books. It has seen over 2 million downloads since its release late last year. In a trial, 3M, another e-book distributor, will install a kiosk next month at several libraries for browsing e-books. Customers read using 3M's library app.

Library apps. Some libraries are considering their own apps. Douglas County Libraries in Colorado is on tap to be the first in the country with its own app.

Read and learn more

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