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Library Patrons Want E-Books Over Every Other Downloadable Media

Published on Digital Book World.com.

Library patrons, it turns out, are just like everybody else when it comes to e-books: increasingly, they want them.

According to the new Patron Profiles report from Library Journal and Bowker, 28% of library patrons want to download e-books at their local libraries. That number increases when it comes to library patrons who also read e-books: nearly two-thirds of those want e-books available at their local libraries.

E-books were more in demand among library patrons than music and video (see chart below).

The report, geared toward librarians planning for the future, recommended that libraries adjust their strategies based on the rise of tablets, other devices and downloaded media.

“There’s no question that library patrons want e-books,” said Rebecca Miller, the editor for the Patron Profiles series and editor-in-chief of School Library Journal. “The big picture context is that libraries are in this they — they want to share e-books and they want to help people discover authors and new titles through e-books.”

While demand for e-books among library patrons and the rest of the population continues to increase, some publishers have been hesitant to make their e-books available to libraries.

Of the six largest U.S. publishers, two have full-fledged agreements with libraries to lend e-books (Random Houseand HarperCollins), two are currently running pilot programs (Hachette and Penguin) and two are not currently making their books available to libraries (Simon & Schuster and Macmillan).

Proponents of making books available to libraries argue that library patrons who borrow e-books are also e-book buyers and that in a world of dwindling bookstore shelf space, the library is becoming an increasingly important place for readers to discover new authors and new titles — both in print and e-.

The publishers may be hesitant to make their books available to libraries for fear that consumers will borrow them rather than buy them, cutting into sales.

There have been several studies that suggest that library patrons who borrow e-books also buy e-books. The most recent of which was a study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life project which found that among people who borrow e-books from libraries, 41% bought their last e-book.

“If they borrow, they buy,” said Miller, referring to the Pew study and others. “They discover books in the library. It’s true of e-books and print books.”

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