How Libraries are (Finally) Joining the Ebook Revolution

Unknown ReaderThe Unknown Reader blogs monthly about all things ebook.  Naturally, she has strong opinions about her reading material. Over the holidays the Unknown Reader ventured West to San Diego so we took advantage of the opportunity to capture a portrait of her in front of a mosaic in Solana Beach, CA, doing what she does best–reading!


The Age of Ebooks Has Arrived at Your Library

With Hachette joining the other Big Six publishers, there’s an increasingly united front of ebook publishers striking deals with libraries. Prepare yourselves: the age of ebooks from local libraries has definitely arrived.

A simple search in Google News for two keywords (simply “ebooks libraries” without quotation marks) conjured up results for events joining the ebook and the library across the US. From a library ebook downloading demo to an ebook distributor’s contest that encourages libraries to creatively market their ebook collections, libraries and ebooks are forming a more perfect union. School libraries are offering ebooks. Public libraries are acquiring ebook collections. More pixels, less ink.

The union of libraries and ebooks is generating plenty of press. At the start of May, the New York Times ran a thought-provoking op-ed on ebooks’ impact on democracy. The newly-released Hachette ebooks to libraries prompted a reflection on how the union of ebooks and libraries provides us with unparalleled (and nearly instant) access to information.



A remarkable 62% of surveyed Americans (age 16+) didn’t know whether their local library even carried ebooks, according to an American Library Association article.

What troubles lie ahead for ebooks and libraries? One concern pointed out by the Economist is security: a talented hacker could access an entire library’s ebook collection. Another concern from the Economist:

Will someone with a library card granting ebook access never buy another book (or ebook) again?

Apparently people are still reading and buying ebooks, so publishers can stop fretting. However, ebook readers could take steps to save another institution: their local library. After all, how will libraries remain relevant in a digital age?

For starters, a host of great suggestions from Smashwords founder Mark Coker dedicated a post to the union of the library and the ebook.. Through classes about online ebook checkout, self-publishing, and writing–and simply hosting local writing groups–libraries can (and some, as Coker explains, have already begun to) flourish alongside the ebook revolution.

As Coker mentions, graphic designers can help self-published authors create ebook covers in library computer labs. What if a library taught elementary and middle schoolers how to self-publish a portfolio of essays or a compilation of poetry? What about the convenience of sending a student’s work to family around the world via ebook? How about the creativity and motivation that could be unleashed when students have software to format their writing? And let’s not forget the plain old practicality of students gaining software skills and exploring publishing and graphic design at a young age.


Please share

Readers, what do you think? How can libraries stay relevant in a digital age? Have you used Overdrive (or another system) to check out library ebooks? Share and share alike ;)

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