Butterflies are free to fly

Want ebooks? We got plenty

October 15, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Tech

The world of electronic books and ways to read them seems like it is constantly growing and changing. New ebookreaders hit the market frequently, and more and more authors and publishers are using ebooks to reach readers.

Boyd County Public Library is committing about 20 percent of its materials budget to the purchase of ebooks and downloadable audiobooks.

We purchase them from a few different providers. First, there’s OverDrive, which is the ebook provider for Kentucky Libraries Unbound, a consortium of libraries in the Commonwealth which BCPL joined in 2006. Through OverDrive, BCPL patrons currently have access to more than 12,000 ebooks and 10,000 downloadable audiobooks.

Earlier this year, we added Freading to our digital book offering. The Freading collection includes more than 20,000 titles, with about 600 new ones added each month. A nice thing about Freading is the multiple copies, so there is generally no waiting, even for new releases.

OneClickdigital is the library’s audiobook provider, which gives our patrons access to about 4,000 always available audiobook titles published by Recorded Books.

Links for all of these services can easily be found on this web site. All you need is your library card.

Believe it or not, electronic books are more than 60 years old. Well, sort of. The first thing resembling an electronic book dates to the late 1940s, when Roberto Busa published a heavily annotated electronic index to the works of Thomas Aquinas. But the general consensus is that Michael Hart invented the first true ebook when he typed the Declaration of Independence into a computer in 1971.

Those first ebooks were generally written for specialty areas and had a limited audience – technical manuals for hardware and manufacturing techniques, to name a couple of the early subjects.

Sony introduced the first electronic book reader in 1992 – the Data Discman – that could read ebooks that were stored in CDs. But soon, the Internet exploded, which made transferring electronic fil

es, including ebooks, much easier.

Libraries in this country started offering free ebooks to the public in the late 1990s, but their offerings were still mainly scholarly. In 2003, libraries began adding popular fiction and non-fiction to their downloadable choices. By 2010, more than two-thirds of U.S. public libraries were offering ebooks.

So what does all this mean for BCPL card holders? It means that our customers can “check out” an ebook for free, just as they would a print copy. Digital checkouts are automatically returned to the digital catalog, so there are never any late fees.

With all of our downloading services, you can transfer the item to a computer, smartphone or any reading device. Instructions are available at each branch and online, and staff can answer any questions.

As technology advances – by the second, it seems – we see changes that make ebook downloading easier. For example, just last month, Barnes & Noble added the OverDrive Media Console app to its Nook Apps storefront. This means those who read on any of the Nook devices can now wirelessly borrow ebooks and MP3 audiobooks from the library – instead of having to sideload the files from a computer.

OneClickdigital, the audiobook supplier, announced a similar upgrade last month for the Kindle Fire. It already offers apps for the iPhone and all Android devices.

You don’t have a way to read ebooks, or aren’t interested in downloading yourself? No problem. At BCPL, you can check out a Nook, complete with a selection of books. All you have to do is pick the genre you like.

There’s no way we can know what’s coming next. But we are definitely excited to find out, and we will be ready to bring it to you.

Amanda Gilmore

About Amanda Gilmore

Amanda Gilmore is the community relations coordinator for BCPL. She spent 20 years in the newspaper business, and is thrilled to be on the other side - telling our community about all the wonderful library programs and services.

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