Friday, June 22, 2012

Library e books

While three-quarters of the nation's public libraries now offer e-book lending services, their patrons may still lack awareness of the full range of options available. A phone survey of 2,986 Americans--ages 16 and older--conducted by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project from November 16 to December 21, 2011, found that only 12% had borrowed an e-book from a library during the previous year and 62% did not know whether their library offered e-book lending (our library does free downloads/click here icon on the left).
According to the survey, 58% of respondents have a library card and 69% consider the library important to them and their family. Also of note:
  • 58% of all library cardholders do not know if their library provides e-book lending services.
  • 53% of all tablet computer owners do not know if their library lends e-books.
  • 48% of all owners of e-book reading devices do not know if their library lends e-books.
  • 47% of all those who read an e-book in the past year do not know if their library lends e-books.
"It was a genuine surprise to see these data, especially after all of the attention that has been paid to the tension between libraries and major book publishers about whether many of the most popular books should be available for lending by libraries," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project.

The Pew survey found that e-book borrowers read an average (the mean number) of 29 borrowed or purchased books during the past year in all formats (e-book, printed book, audiobook), compared to 23 books for readers who do not borrow e-books from a library. The median (midpoint) figures for books reportedly read are 20 in the past year by e-book borrowers and 12 by non-borrowers.

Asked about the most recent book they had read, 41% of those who borrow e-books from libraries purchased their most recent e-book.

Among e-book readers who also have library cards, 55% prefer to buy e-books, while 36% prefer borrowing them from any source (friends or libraries). For library card holders, 46% prefer to buy print books and 45% prefer to borrow print books. When it comes to e-book borrowers, 33% say they generally prefer to buy e-books and 57% say they generally prefer to borrow them.

Regarding e-title availability, 32% of e-book borrowers say the selection at their library is "good," 18% "very good" and 16% "excellent," with 23% calling the selection "fair," 4% "poor" and 8% saying they don’t know.

Other notable findings:

  • 18% of e-book borrowers say at one point or another they found that an e-book they were interested in was not compatible with the e-reading device they were using.
  • 46% of those who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries would be "very" or "somewhat" likely to borrow an e-reading device that came loaded with a book they wanted to read.
  • 32% of those who do not currently borrow e-books would be "very" or "somewhat" likely to take a library class on how to download e-books onto handheld devices.
  • 32% of those who do not currently borrow e-books say they would be "very" or "somewhat" likely to take a course at a library in how to use an e-reader or tablet computer.
Kathryn Zickuhr, a research specialist at the Pew Internet Project, said the findings suggest ways that libraries might be able to build awareness: "First, these data show that public education campaigns might add to the numbers of those who are aware that e-books can be borrowed and enjoyed on new technology like tablet computers and e-book reading devices. Second, the data show that a share of patrons would appreciate being helped in their quest to master new devices and load e-books onto them."

(If you have any trouble at all with accessing e-reader content, I urge you to contact your local library.  They are there to help you in any way possible.)

[courtesy of Shelf Awareness, June 22, 2012]

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