Friday, October 05, 2007

Checking Out Ebooks -- At Your Local Library

My sister, the librarian, called me yesterday. I'd been to visit a couple of weekends before and had given her some promotional materials -- book marks, postcards, some freebie books -- to pass out to her friends and put on the counter at her library. She'd been thinking, she said, and wanted to tell me some things about the library, books, library patrons, and ebooks in particular.

Now, I'm thinking, I've had a library card for years and pretty much know about libraries. I know quite a lot about books and ebooks, and since I'm a library patron (albeit a sporadic one) I thought I would know a few things about that, too.

I was wrong.

What my sister wanted to tell me was this -- ebooks are available in libraries for check-out and she could not find any of my titles in her state library ebook system. This, according to her, was not good. This, according to me, was something I'd not considered.

Several of my backcopy print books have been distributed in libraries but I had never considered that libraries offer electronic books. That, my sister says, is because I've not visited my friendly neighborhood library's website in a long time. True. I had not.

So I did. I immediately went to the Louisville Public Library website and to my sister's library in Ohio. Omidgoodness! Ebooks galore! But how does this work, I ask? And why is it important to me? And should I be worried that libraries offer ebooks for download -- for free!?

So, my sister and I talked about this some more.

How does this work? Just like buying an ebook off a website, except no money is exchanged, of course. You download it for free --however, according to my sister, at her library the books magically disappear off of your computer within two weeks. Ah. Sweet, huh?

Why is it important? Again, my sister, the book woman, says it is important that any author's books be in the library and it doesn't matter if the books are print or ebook. According to her, library patrons think if an author's book isn't in the library, the author is not a good author. Yikes! She also says that libraries are discriminate about what they buy -- they want to buy the books that will be checked out often, over and over again. Helps the budget, of course.

Should I be worried? Nope. My sister also says that library patrons value books and authors and that when they find someone they like, they will buy the next book rather than wait for it to come to the library. And, because ebooks can sometimes be quicker, they will buy the ebook before the library gets it in print. Library patrons, she says, also make strong recommendations to their friends about the authors they like. And, when they need to buy a gift for a friend, they often buy a favorite author’s book.

I experienced this not long ago with one of my print books. A friend here in Louisville had checked out one of back copy print books a couple of months ago. It was the first time she'd ever read anything of mine. Last week, she ordered one of my ebooks. Pretty cool, I thought, that she'd found me in the library and then actually bought my book.

So, ebooks in the library were just such a new concept to me that I wanted to share. Boy, can I see advantages for readers and authors in so many ways. Something I think I'll want to ponder a little more.

Happy Friday!

maddie
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