E-book Checkouts Increasing in Cobb
The gap between in-person and online checkouts is still large, but the number of those using the latter method is growing.
The majority of Cobb residents may still prefer to check out hard copies of books from their local libraries, but officials say the popularity of e-books is picking up steam.
The county library system has 1,581 copies of books on www.overdrive.com, the website it uses to facilitate e-book checkouts. Currently, there are 1,108 e-books checked out.
“That leaves fewer than 580 e-books available on the website,” said Jonathan McKeown, associate director for central and outreach services. “It’s proven popular.”
And e-books are easier to check out than regular books, said Julia Huprich, digital services librarian.
“They don’t need to visit their favorite local branch, like Powder Springs,” she said. “They can just download them from home or wherever they have Internet access.”
Cobb residents can log onto www.overdrive.com, search for the e-book they want, and choose one of three versions: Kindle, ePub or PDF. Kindle checkouts are routed to www.amazon.com, while ePub and PDF versions use Adobe Digital Editions software. Users can choose either 14- or 21-day rentals.
The e-book service was established after a demand from patrons, McKeown said.
“We had been looking at them for about a year before that but didn’t feel we had the money to fund it,” he said.
In October 2010, the demand grew.
“As Christmas came along, it got even higher, so we took the plunge,” McKeown said.
Last month, 13,485 items were checked out from the Powder Springs Library, more than 290,000 books checked out throughout the library system, and roughly 5,000 e-books and audio books borrowed. Library system officials say they cannot track how many patrons from each city check out e-books.
The gap between in-person and online checkouts is still large, McKeown said.
“But I see it headed very heavy in that direction,” he said, referencing the growing popularity of e-books. “It’s going to start taking a bigger and bigger chunk of our circulation.”
Considering that the e-book checkout program just started in March, McKeown said he’s pleased with the number of people using the program.
Officials plan to spend more money on e-books in future years, and McKeown said there might one day be parity in the amount spent on e-books and print books.
“We’re really excited about this, the fact that our downloads are doing as well as they are for us,” McKeown said. “The more money we put into it, the more people will use it. Whenever a new order comes in, we always see a spike in the circulation numbers.”
Cobb County has 346,000 library card holders, 6,000 of whom are using e-book and audio book services.
“We’re really excited about the e-book service that we have,” McKeown said. “Then, you have to step back a little and realize, oh, it’s a small percentage of what we’re doing.”