Ebooks gaining in popularity—July 23, 2010
In 2003, the library I was working in tried distributing electronic books, or ebooks, to the public. They were clunky devices and they each had about five books of a particular genre. I tried one with mystery titles and enjoyed having a self-lighted book to read in bed. That’s the extent of what I remember, other than the fact that they never really caught on with the public and we discontinued their use after a year or so.
Well, here we are seven years later and everyone is raving about ebooks again. This time though, I think they just may be around to stay. The major players seem to be the Kindle from Amazon, the Sony eReader, and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Adding to the hoopla and market share war, I bought my own device this past weekend and I chose a Nook. It’s ridiculous once you’ve made up your mind how much excitement can build while you wait for your shiny new gadget to charge.
Once it was charged, it was a breeze to set up and within a few short minutes I had a $4 book downloaded wirelessly from Barnes & Noble and a minute later, a free book downloaded from the library. Am I hooked on the device? Not completely yet. I still love paper books as much as any reader. But I have to say, the fact that it could store close to 1,500 books makes it pretty tempting to buy the ebook version next time I make a purchase. And the fact that I could have several, if not hundreds of books with me when I travel makes it even more appealing, since I hate limiting my packing to one book.
So why did I make the leap? As of this month, our Overdrive service added ebooks to its download offerings. Hastings and 46 other public libraries across Nebraska share the Overdrive service and collection. Previously we had only been able to download audiobooks, which is a great service also if you’re not already familiar with it. But now you can also checkout and download ebooks to your own device. They have a lending period of 21 days, but unlike the audiobooks, you can return them early if you finish in less time. Our collection right now is small, but it will grow in the coming year as we have more and more people asking for ebooks. And it’s not all free classics like you might be thinking; it includes bestsellers, non-fiction and a few kids’ titles.
I think the earlier ebooks failed in part because the library owned the device, and people didn’t get personally attached to them. Think about how use of your cell phone has changed in the last ten years. Certainly we are more attached to our gadgets and we expect more from them now. And finally, in the book world, they are starting to deliver.
If you ‘d like to know more about downloadable audio or ebooks, I’ll be giving a demonstration of the Overdrive service at the Library Board work session at 4:30pm on Monday, July 26th in the library meeting room. I’ll also be hosting an “eBook Petting Zoo” on Tuesday, August 3rd at 7pm also in the library meeting room. There you’ll have a chance to see up close the different devices and try them before you decide if one is right for you. In the meantime, if you have questions or want help working with Overdrive please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.hastings.lib.ne.us for more details. Happy reading, no matter what your format!