"The Rise of the E-Book Lending Library (and the Death of e-Book Pirating")
Although the retailer-linked sharing sites [e.g. Kindle Lending Club and eBook Fling] are still largely restricted to U.S. users – and Toronto-based Kobo e-reader has yet to offer its own lending feature – they are collectively creating a booming and completely unanticipated market in previously loved electronic literature. In the meantime, established public libraries are quickly bulking up their own e-book collections, a task made easy by wholesalers that not only provide the files but also the systems that control their lending and recovery.
“The increased demand is tremendous, it’s really remarkable,” said Vickery Bowles, director of collections at the Toronto Public Library. E-book lending at the TPL increased 88 per cent in 2009 and 70 per cent in 2010 before going exponential after a Christmas that put millions of new e-readers in the hands of consumers. “E-book lending is still a very small percentage of the whole,” she said, “but that kind of increase in use is obviously very unusual, and a real signal of how things are changing.”
“We have a long history of loaning electronic materials and it hasn’t been compromised,” the TPL’s Bowles said. Publishers may be nervous due to the experience of the music industry, she added, but the public benefit of e-book lending is clear.
“It is extending access to these wonderful materials,” she said. “That’s what’s really exciting about it.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.