Library downloads of digital books gain popularity

 By CELESTE ORENDAIN

As the popularity of electronic and audio books continues to grow, Pima County’s public library system has increased the number of downloads available.

County libraries now have more than 9,000 book titles available, compared to 4,757 titles in 2011.

Library Director Nancy Ledeboer said electronic book borrowing has increased by130 percent. Residents downloaded 2,561 audiobooks and e-books in the first week of 2012, compared to 815 downloads a year earlier.

Many residents received digital reading devices such as Kindles, Nooks and Sony Readers as Christmas presents, Ledeboer noted. “It was not that popular when you had to read from your computer screen.”

Post-Christmas download volume was so high that the server crashed for Overdrive, the library’s digital book service.

County libraries allow residents to check out five downloadable items, for up to 21 days.

To get started, you need a library card, a home computer and free software. For instructions on borrowing e-books and audiobooks for a specific digital reader, visit library.pima.gov/digital. Many library branches also offer workshops on using the service.

“There are a number of challenges with e-books,” Ledeboer said. “We have thousands of books placed on hold. Customers will receive an email notification telling them that their e-book is ready to download.”

Ledeboer said some publishers don’t want libraries to provide free digital book downloads, “because they want to sell them to you.”

Customers who use the download service seem to really enjoy their e-books, Ledeboer added.

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