Guest Author - Kathryn K Free
Libraries are seeking ways to enter the mobile market. This past September Amazon turned on their Kindle for 11,000 local libraries to lend eBooks to their customers. This connection triggered thousands of new customers. Today APP developers are working with libraries to allow readers to borrow directly from their smartphone.
Christopher Platt of the New York Public Library stated, ‘With more devices for consumers to try, they’re going to get better.’
With every new step forward there are challenges to overcome. The biggest challenge to overcome seems to come from publishers. The publishers fear copyright infringement and loss of money. Just as the music and entertainment industry evolved the publishing industry is at their crossroads. Their fear of losing money is costing them even more. Libraries are wanting to grow, exist but large publishers are refusing to sell to libraries. So the battle continues.
Consumers on the other hand are hungry for eBook lending and this concept is growing at astounding rate. According to Library Journal, the public libraries have increased by 185% and eBooks now account for 8% of their budget. The New York Public Library has quadrupled their eBook budget and spent $1 million in 2011. Seattle Public Library began their eBook offering and circulation grew by 92% in 2010 according to Kirk Blankenship, its electronic resources librarian.
Besides libraries some other challenges come from other eBook Reader manufacturers. Sony and the Nook were the first to offer eBook lending and when Amazon finally allowed eBook lending rapid growth was immediate. eBook lending at some libraries increased by 30% since Kindle’s agreement went into effect.
In 2012 Smartphone options are emerging as powerful options for eBook lending. Just recently, Overdrive, a large e-book distributor for libraries, released its app for e-books. Already it has seen over 2 million downloads since its release late 2011.
Since eBook lending is creating such buzz libraries are looking to create their own APPs. One of the first to have their own APP will be Douglas County Libraries in Colorado. Their eBook Reader is a ‘white-label’ APP and since it was introduced in February 2010 eBook lending has increased 1, 200%. The Chicago Public Library, whose e-book circulation is up 380% in 2011, is considering a similar app, Dempsey says.
Another growing pain to eBook lending is availability of titles. Titles are not found and when found the consumers are finding long waiting lists. This goes back to the publishing industry challenges. When a library purchases an eBook they are paying top dollar and this price has come at the expense of print copies. Pricing needs to come down and when this happens availability will increase.
eBook lending is here to stay. Publishers will evolve. Life will move forward.