Based on the number of downloads from the Kindle bookstore, Amazon has listed Salt Lake City as one of the most well-read cities in the United States.
“eReader use has exploded, especially in Salt Lake City,” said Julianne Hancock, communications manager for the Salt Lake City Library. “We are adapting our collection and the way we serve the community by adapting to the new technology.”
With 7,000 titles and thousands of downloads a month, the Salt Lake City Public Library is one of 11,000 libraries in the United States offering electronic books for loan. Patrons who have a library card can check out books for Kindle and other mobile devices. Most checkouts are available for computers, smart phones, tablets and eReaders. Titles are available in EPUB, PDF, MP3 and WMA formats.
“I think it is a great idea. With my children, I don’t have time to go the library,” said Salt Lake Community College student Marilei Puentes. “I had no idea that they had this offered. It is something I look forward to trying.”
The city library allows people to check out up to five electronic titles at a time. At the end of the loan the books are automatically returned to the library for the next person. The books have varying lending periods.
“The bad thing is that the checkout is for 14 days and you can’t renew the book,” said SLCC Communication instructor Matt Merkel. “If there is a waiting list, then you go to the bottom of it before you get to finish the book.”
Libraries have been checking out audio books for years. The OverDrive checkout system takes it to a new level by checking out the audio books and eBooks online. Merkel feels that the selection is small, but as the system becomes more diverse and grows, it will get better.
SLCC Student Michael Romero has checked out eBooks to read while traveling to and from school.
“Digital books are a lot lighter to carry,” Romero said. “It’s free and it’s a digital thing and it makes the bus ride more enjoyable. I like that it is one of those things where [the public libraries] are more progressive than Amazon. I don’t have to pay for [a] digital copy of the book.”
While it is convenient for the library to offer the eBook rentals, both Merkel and Romero feel that paper books will not go away. Many people find that being able to pick up a book and flip through the pages is the most enjoyable part of reading.
“When I go buy a book, I want a real book,” Romero said.
To take advantage of downloadable books and audio books, Salt Lake City Public Library cardholders can visit overdrive.slcpl.org