Starting Today, the Boulder library also plans to allow patrons to check out the Barnes & Noble Nook ereaders. The Nook ereader is approximatley 5in by 7 in and oly weighs about 8 ounces. Twenty of the devices will be preloaded with 10 bestsellers andavailable at the main library, and eventually, about 10 at each branch.
The popularity of e-readers is skyrocketing, but public libraries are challenged to keep up with demand, thanks to limited budgets and publishers afraid of losing sales if "free" digital copies are too accessible through libraries.
Industry insiders say that the larger Publishers are looking for agreements with libraries that won't hurt their bottom line. Many are considering raising the price, limiting copies or only allowing a set number of check-outs before a library must repurchase access to the document from the publisher.
Last September, The Boulder library began offering Kindle versions of e-books, which can be used both on the Amazon Kindle or mobile devices, like tablet computers and smart phones, with the free Kindle app. But unfortunatly, not all publishers agreed to allow access.
About 12 percent of the library's circulation is from online e-book or audio-book checkouts. In 2011, the library checked out about 28,000 e-books, while patrons also placed 23,000 e-book holds.
While the biggest publishers seem reluctant to work with libraries, smaller publishers have been more than willing to sell digital copies. Douglas County also is providing a link that allows patrons who don't want to wait for a popular e-book to become available to buy it instead, benefiting booksellers.
The Front Range Downloadable Library uses OverDrive, an Ohio-based firm that specializes in distributing electronic media, as its e-book portal. The service is available from home or at the library, and it requires only a computer and a valid library card issued by one of the seven participating libraries: Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, Westminster or Loveland.
The downloadable library is designed to prevent abuse of the service. The Library has multiple digital copies of the available books, since titles can only be checked out to one person at a time, for one - three weeks. After the checkout period ends, the title expires making it no longer available on the mobile device. Digital controls make sure that it is automatically returned to the online system and made available to another user.
At least that means you will never be charged for an over due ebook, and that alone is worth something.