The county library last Friday began loaning e-books, also known as electronic books. They are downloadable from a library card holder’s home computer and can be read on a personal computer, iPad, Nook, smart phone or other digital reading device.
The library in March signed an agreement with OverDrive Inc., which is the nation’s largest provider of electronic and audio versions of written material to public libraries.
"It works with almost every e-book reader," said Sarah Hill, director of the county library’s Sights & Sounds audio-visual department.
By mid-day today, 262 e-books had been checked out, including 132 on the first day of the service, said Marianne Kruppa, assistant manager at the Francis Branch.
With the increasing popularity of tablet computers, e-books are sweeping the publishing world. Amazon announced in May that it’s now selling more e-books than printed books.
To borrow an e-book, a county card holder goes to www.libraryforlife.org and clicks on the OverDrive e-book image. The borrower scans the list of available e-titles, adds a title to the virtual "book cart," then proceeds to checkout using his or her county library card.
Loans of the e-books are shorter than the three-week loans generally available for printed books.
At checkout, a card holder may choose a 7-day or 14-day checkout period. The e-book will disappear from the borrower’s computer when the loan period expires. So there are no overdue fines for e-books.
E-book titles are expensive for libraries to buy and the contract allows copies to be loaned out just one at a time, like traditional books. "The shorter the loan period, the more times it can be checked out," Hill said.
The first time an individual goes to the website to borrow an e-book, he or she must download free software to allow the file transfer.
A borrower will be permitted to have a single title on up to six of their electronic devices at a time, Hill said.
The contract with OverDrive is for three years and will cost the library $18,000 the first year, with $8,500 in content credited back; $8,000 the second year, with $2,000 in content credited back; and $6,000 the third year, with no amount credited back.
There has been increasing demand among library patrons for access to e-books, Hill said.
The library is budgeting $73,000 a year for purchase of e-books, money that is being redirected from the purchase of other library materials. Beside e-books, OverDrive also provides audiobooks for download.
For more details, visit: www.libraryforlife.org. If you have specific questions or need help downloading the software, call 574-282-4609.
Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe: