Library users are flocking to e-books in record and ever-growing numbers, with the quantity of electronic checkouts more than doubling each year, on average, for the past five years.
A total of 628,568 eBook checkouts were recorded in 2012, according to Joye Hardman, manager of access and discovery for the Calgary Public Library.
That compares to fewer than 10,000 in 2007, the first full year of e-book availability, Hardman said.
Kylie Robertson started checking out e-books after receiving an e-reader as a Christmas gift and finds it easier than physically going down to a library branch to pick up new titles.
“I like the convenience of being able to rent books from my couch, especially if it’s freezing cold,” she said.
The library is adding to its e-book selection every week, said communications officer Natasha Carnali, as a way of staying current with readers’ habits.
“Technology just keeps updating and there’s so much new stuff out there every month, so it’s very important for the library to keep up with that and stay relevant and fresh for the community,” she said.
The library currently offers more than 46,100 copies of e-books but, like with regular books, if there isn’t a copy available of the title you want, you have to wait until someone else “returns” it before you can check it out.
That part took Robertson a bit by surprise.
“I didn’t expect there to be hold times for digital copies as well,” she said, noting that people tend to expect “instant gratification” in the electronic world.