The Northwest Regional Library System in Panama City, Fla., is moving to catch the
current technological e-wave.
A three-person team from the library is now in the final stages of choosing adult fiction, adult nonfiction and children's book titles that soon will be available for e-borrowing on Kindle devices.
For about a year, about 100 popular titles and certain textbooks have been available for downloading onto other devices, such as a home computer or iPad. But the vast Kindle library only opened up for borrowing last fall, said system director Robin Shader.
"The popularity of e-books has risen dramatically," said Shader, who oversees eight libraries across Bay, Gulf and Liberty counties. The libraries have hooked up with a company called Overdrive, which handles leasing the Kindle e-books and is building a local library Web page for them.
Kindle is a digital reading platform for Amazon.com's e-book service that consists of an online e-book store and the Kindle e-reader device. Books, newspapers and magazines can be purchased at the e-store and downloaded.
The e-borrowing service will cost the system $18,000 per year, with about $6,000 dedicated to leasing titles that library patrons then can borrow digitally for free onto their devices -- just like borrowing a regular book, but you don't have to leave your home.
After 14 days, the borrowed book will be "returned," meaning it will no longer allow itself to be opened and read. Only one person will be able to borrow an individual e-book at a time, unless the library decides to lease multiple copies.
"A year ago we realized that e-books were becoming popular, but we waited to see what the industry would do," Shader said. "When Kindle got on board with Overdrive, everything just blew up."
The library will pay a fee per book to have the titles available. Shader said the startup $6,000 should snag 400 to 500 e-books to begin with, mostly popular titles that might have turned up on a New York Times bestseller list. The local e-library will continue to grow as additional books are leased each year.
"It's expensive right now; there is such a high demand for it," Shader said. "As more companies come into the market, I think it will eventually reduce the price."
When the local e-book Web page is up and running, patrons with a library card can go to the library system's website at www.nwrls.com, consider the array of e-books available and read descriptions, excerpts and critical reviews of many of the most popular, such as a bestseller from John Grisham.
"We expect a high demand," Shader said, adding that e-patrons will only be allowed to borrow five e-books at any one time. With regular books, 20 is the limit.
The library is still in the process of selecting the e-books that will be available, the Web page is still under design and library staff members still need to be trained, Shader said.
"My wish and my hope is to have it open by the end of February," she said.
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