When Glendale and Pasadena began lending ebooks in 2005, demand was low. But an increasing number of patrons are embracing the technology, contributing to what could end up being a sea change in how publishers and libraries interact with readers.
In the first study examining ebook consumption, released in April, the Pew Research Center found that at least 21% of Americans had read an ebook. Eleven percent of people who owned a reading device looked for ebooks at their public library.
At the Glendale and Pasadena libraries, which share the same catalog, the average number of borrowers each month from November to April was 1,620.
“Our circulation of ebooks is the one area of the library that continues to grow by big numbers every month,” said Jan Sanders, the director of Pasadena libraries. “Our other circulated items aren’t increasing.”
Both libraries have recently averaged buying 120 to 150 new digital items each month, from ebooks to audio and video files. Together, the libraries share about 5,500 ebooks. Six months ago, that figure was 3,248.