Yet Another Sign of the Times

By Joe Moore

Things just keep on changing.

Back in August, my blog post Goin’ Through Them Changes was about how after 26 years I canceled my subscription to the local newspaper (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) in favor of a digital subscription. I now sip my Dunkin Donuts coffee each morning while reading the paper on my computer screen. Among the many advantages to digital over paper, there’s no recycling to the curb each week, no need to chop down trees, and no ink on my fingers. Since my August post I’ve discovered that many newspapers around the country including The New York Times are now offering digital-only subscriptions. The only thing missing is the thumping sound of the morning edition hitting my hard drive at 5:30 AM like it used to sound when the guy tossed the paper on my driveway.

In September, one of my posts was called The Great MMPB Vanishing Act about an article in The New York Times on the decrease in sales of mass market paperbacks and the growth of ebooks. Some say ebooks are the new MMPB.

Later on in September, I posted a blog called More Signs of the Times about a piece in The Economist on the slump of hardcover sales and the continued rise of ebooks. Are you seeing an industry trend here?

Well, this weekend I read about another ebook development that I think is equally exciting. Yet another sign of the times. Libraries in South and Central Florida now kindle4offer anyone with a library card free ebooks downloaded to their Kindle, Sony, Nook, laptop, desktop, iPhones, iPads and . . . well the list of devices goes on and on. Library patrons can check out up to 10 titles at a time and have 21 days to read each. Free Kindle downloads are issued directly from your Amazon account and include current bestsellers and new releases. My library has over 16,000 ebook titles and close to 9,000 audio books with the list growing all the time. Videos are available, too.

Here’s more good news for just about everyone. You can borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the U.S. Chances are your local library already has this feature or will soon. So check it out and check out a free book. You can download the book in seconds and have plenty of time to read it.

What do you think of this latest development? Are you already reading ebooks free from your library on your Kindle, Nook or iPad? If not, do you intend to look into it? Will it affect or change your reading habits? Where do you think this is all leading? Happy reading!

21 thoughts on “Yet Another Sign of the Times

  1. Yes, I LOVE the fact that my library allows me to check out books on my Kindle. Since I’m a library fiend, I typically max out my checkouts limit in both print and e-reading. 🙂

  2. That’s fantastic! I’m amazed the Amazon/Apple/Google corporate lobbyists didn’t quash that trend before it took hold. I’ll definitely take advantage of this new library program.

  3. I have not yet checked to see if my library has this feature or not. I’m not yet sure if I would borrow books on Kindle on a regular basis–I probably have 20 years worth of reading downloaded to my Kindle now! LOL!

    But one of the appealing things is the possibility of not having to do the whole physical inter-library loan thing–but that’s supposing that the book you’re borrowing (which is usually non-fiction in my case) comes in e-book format to begin with.

    Either way, I look forward to the possibilities.

    BK Jackson

  4. Nice post, Joe. This IS good news.

    I think library patrons can also request books they’d like to read & libraries try to accommodate if the books meet their purchasing criteria. I’ve had many readers write to tell me they requested & got my books ordered that way. This is a great way to get exposed to new readers.

    And it’s a great way for readers to help the authors they really like.

  5. M.E., thanks for dropping by TKZ. It’s great to hear you’re taking advantage of this convenience.

    Kathryn, it is pretty cool to have another avenue for fans to read our books. And everyone benefits in the food chain.

    BK, you’re a lot like me. I’ve got months of samples downloaded and am reading 3 books at a time. Never would have done this without my Kindle.

    You’re right, Jordan, just like hard copies of books, patrons can request specific titles.

    Anon 9:39. There’s no difference here whether a patron checks out a physical book or an ebook from the library. The author still receives royalties from copies sold. Libraries have to purchase the books from the publisher before making them available to patrons. And they’re limited as to how many “virtual” copies of ebooks they can loan out. BTW, most ebooks are protected by DRM technology prohibiting copies to be made.

    A few days ago, I downloaded Harlan Coben’s LIVE WIRE from my local library. But I had to place a “hold” on the book and wait for an ebook copy to become available. The library emailed me within two days and I obtained the book for free from Amazon.

  6. I plan to borrow books and read them on my Kindle. Going to the library and coming out with an armload of books is a thrilling experience, but the convenience of the Kindle is a strong argument for digital borrowing.

  7. Interesting indeed, Joe. So are the libraries then limited in how many books they can have to loan out? They purchase these, just like they purchase print copies?

  8. You’re right, Steven. It’s a very cool convenience. Saves on gas, too.

    Jim, that’s how I understand it. They can only loan out a set number of ebooks. So you have to stand in a virtual line and wait until the book becomes available.

  9. Joe–I think publishers have tried to limit how many copies libraries can loan out total before they have to buy again. That was a very unpopular decision, especially in light of the budget cuts with libraries. This is yet another problem to sort out as we go more digital.

    Digital books don’t wear out and with publishers hurting and trying to find a good value for their product, where is the middle ground in all this?


  10. It is controversial, Jordan. For instance, HarperCollins limits libraries to 26 checkouts of an ebook before the library must purchase the book again. This is opposed to hard copy books which, once purchased by the library, can be loaned out forever. Obviously, everyone is still finding their way in this virtual electronic world.

  11. Me like library books. I sit at my computer and imagine the smells and sights of my youth in a turn of the century Carnegie library I frequented in my childhood Ohio home. Alaska was too new back then as now to have such a nostalgic place. But there are nice 70’s & 80’s era libraries all over. With the limited time I have though I like to download. So YEAH!!

    My wife & kids though, still prefer the real thing.

    As long as both are available, I think we’ll be good for as far as I can see in the future.

  12. Hi Basil. I like both methods, too. But the convenience of downloading books to my Kindle is really hard to beat. Probably the biggest negative is the selection is still small compared to the physical books on the shelves. The Carnegie Library sounds like a wonderful place to visit. It’s rare to get that type of atmosphere outside of the older cities.

  13. The killer for libraries here in Maricopa County is the terrible hours. I understand about budget cuts, and I understand cutting library hours. What I DON’T understand is their choice of what hours to be open. Basically, if you are employed during the weekday, as most are, your opportunities to use the library are severely limited.

    BK Jackson

  14. Joe, I think anything that makes books more accessible is good for authors. We can write all we want but we need readers. I know people, educated people, who have not been inside of a library or a bookstore in years. Maybe they will visit electronically, if only for the new experience.

  15. I didn’t know libraries got into e-books too. That’s really neat! I normally prefer the real thing, but it’s cool that you can do that.

  16. BK, Joe and Ashley, thanks for the comments. Probably the best thing about the virtual library is that, unlike the brick and mortar version, it never closes.

  17. This is fantastic. I’ve found that there is still a wait list for some books, just like there is for new release hardcovers, so it’s the same way of lending only in a different format.

    I received a Kindle for my birthday earlier this year, and I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of not holding a paper book in my hands. Now, though, I’m not sure what I would do without it. I still buy physical books (the ones I love to share them with friends and with my mom), but my ebook purchases have now outnumbered my paperback purchases.

  18. Sandra, thanks for your input. Just like you, some many including myself have expressed the same opinion. Basically, I never thought I’d want to give up hard copy books. But once I got my Kindle, that’s all in the past.

  19. I have not yet purchased any of these digital readers. Will I?
    Yes. When? Who knows? I just think it’s inevitable.

    Thanks for all these updates, Joe. You certainly do have you finger on the pulse of the industry. It’s a great help!

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