As sales of digital readers such as the Nook and the Kindle continue to soar, the Daniel Boone Regional Library is preparing to meet this new literary demand.
Starting on Jan. 17, the library will offer a new downloadable eBook service, which initially will feature approximately 700 adult, teen and children's fiction and nonfiction titles.
"More and more of our patrons expressed an interest in eBooks. We just thought this would be a good way for us to meet those demands," said Mitzi St. John, director of public relations for the DBRL system. "This gives us a way to make books a lot more accessible."
Callaway County Public Library Director Greg Reeves said the library decided to take advantage of the technology because "this is the year of the eBook reader."
"This Christmas, we knew, was going to be when everyone got one. There's a demand for it. We don't want to be on the leading edge, but we want to keep up with things," Reeves said. "We're constantly looking at what's on the horizon. Years ago, books on cassette was something they only had at Wolfner (Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped), and now they're everywhere.
"People's lifestyles change, but they still want to be able to read."
The Daniel Boone library system already has a program for patrons to read books electronically, but St. John pointed out that the titles available were mostly reference books, and Betsy Collins - who is in charge of materials selection - said it does not work in the same way.
"It's a service we've had for at least 10 years, but these are not books you can download," Collins said. "You have to be connected to the Internet and you have to set up an account."
With the library's new eBook service, patrons will be able to download books through the system's OverDrive service - the same company which provides the current downloadable audio book system - in formats that can be read on either Mac or Windows computers. The eBooks then can be transferred to e-readers such as the Nook, the Kobo eReader, the Literati Reader or the Sony Reader. OverDrive also has a mobile app for iPhones, iPad and Android devices.
"It doesn't work with every device, but we chose the one that works with most of them," Reeves said, adding the program works "exactly the same way as the downloadable audio books."
Patrons must download specific software for the program to work, and then may check out up to seven titles at a time for either seven, 14 or 21 days.
Although the eBook collection can be downloaded by any library user, St. John said availability still will be limited to the number of copies owned by the library.
"When we buy an eBook, essentially we buy a copy, so when a certain title is checked out, it's not available to other patrons," St. John said. "You can place a hold and will receive an e-mail notice when it's available for checkout."
Collins said the service will start off with 700 titles - primarily popular fiction - and will be built up from there just like the library's other collections.
"We monitor the holds on all the formats we carry," she said. "We try to have one copy for every three holds."
According to Reeves, the biggest advantage of the new service will be convenience.
"There's a lot about eBooks that's really exciting. (For example) when you go on a trip and I need to have x-number of books on hand," he said. "We want to be able to provide patrons with as many options as possible."
The library is hosting several sessions for patrons to test drive e-readers and teach them how to use the new OverDrive eBook service in Columbia, and Collins said more are planned for Callaway, although they have not yet been scheduled.
"We'll help people on an individual basis, but we're also going to do some classes to show people how it works," Reeves said.
For more information on the new OverDrive eBook service, a full list of OverDrive compatible devices and reviews of various e-readers, visit the Daniel Boone Regional Library Web site at www.dbrl.org