I love to read. Sometimes I’ll read a whole book in an evening. One of my favorite things is to stay up way too late simply because I’m reading a book I just can’t put down. I also love gadgets. I fell in love with the very first iPhone when I saw it on television. Ditto the iPad. My love of reading and gadgets has found the perfect pairing in digital books. At first I was resistant—keeping the two separate in my life. But one Sunday night I was wandering around the house looking for something to read. Did I mention it was a Sunday night? All the libraries were closed. Desperate, I turned to the Library’s ebook collection from Overdrive to see what books were available to download. There were lots! And within minutes I was happily reading a downloaded book.
I’m not alone in this recent transition to digital books. Digital use is our fastest growing area and we expect the number of downloads to reach about 800,000 this year. In 2011, only the Main Library and the Symmes Township Branch surpassed 800,000 in circulation. Can you blame us? Digital books can be downloaded any time of day or night without leaving your house. Anywhere you have Internet access you can use your mobile device to download a new book. For those of us habitually late in returning our books, there are no overdue charges. Students reading classics can download an always available title.
Despite the rapid growth in use, digital books are still relatively new and there are a few kinks yet to be worked out. Some publishers of the most in-demand authors are refusing to sell their digital books to libraries. We’d love to offer these bestselling authors in a digital format but we can’t. Yet. But we’re working on it with lots of other libraries across the country. We’re also working to make the process of downloading digital books easier, with fewer steps. We need a way to license or purchase digital books from multiple vendors and have you find all of them in our catalog and use the same process to download any of them. And, of course, we have to build a collection of digital books robust enough to keep up with the rapidly growing demand.
I still prefer to read my books but many, many people like to listen. Digital books are great for this. You can download an audio version to your MP3 player or iPod and listen to books while you commute or exercise or just relax.
Need large print? Most e-readers make it possible for you to change the size of the type. Instead of being stuck with the limited selection of large-print books, you can read any book in a type-size comfortable for you.
But we offer more than books. You can also download music. Freegal recently increased the number of songs per week to five and we’ve seen use of this service increase as well.
Not sure where to get started? Our website has a whole section devoted to downloadable content, plus our staff is expert at helping you try out that new e-reader. So give digital books a try. Like me, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
--Kimber L. Fender, The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director