Do you use your library for e-books?

I made a trip to the library I used to use before I got a kindle. It’s about 30 minutes from my home, but I live in a very small town and this is the next town over, just a little bit bigger. I go there for other things a lot, so I thought I would stop in and ask if they have caught up with technology yet and offer e-books.

To my surprise, they do ! I’ve downloaded the app on my kindle fire and iphone and have gotten a few books. I’m still trying to get the hang of it, they seem to have made it a little complicated and gave the wrong directions on how to start it when they printed me out the directions, but all in all, I have a feeling it’s going to save me some money.

I still found myself attracted to regular books while in there though, and they don’t offer all the latest titles via e-books, so I may start using the library for both again.

Do any of you still use your library, either as a source of regular books or e-books?

I’m just wondering how popular this is getting… if it is, I can see them transferring more books into digital form. To me that is absolutely awesome as an alternative to buying books. I may still buy a book I want to own, but I think I’d rather have the actual book than the digital form. That’s just me though, what is your experience?

I have. The problem is that 70% of the books my library carries in digital form seems to be romance novels. The selection for stuff I actually want to read is slimmer pickings, and when they get new stuff the waiting list can get intensely long.

Still, it’s free digital books so I’m often willing to slog through the chaff to find stuff to read.

Right now when I purchase books I prefer to get the e-version. If I can’t find an e-version I try to see if my library has a hardcopy. If it does, I might borrow that instead of buying, unless for some pressing reason I really, really need to own a copy in which case I’ll check out my local used bookstore (yes! we still have one!) before biting the bullet.

I’ve looked into my library’s e-book selection and for the most part they don’t have in the genres I’m interested in (yes - too many romance novels). But, if the current offerings do well I’m confident they’ll expand the offerings in the future.

Meanwhile, I still like to browse the stacks in reality and borrow books for my luchtime reading.

All the time! And my library’s selection is getting better and better. I also download audiobooks from them when I can find ones that aren’t only offered in the evil Windows format.

Yes! NY Public Library uses kindle format predominantly so you can download straight to your kindle or kindle reader app. I use it to catch up on bestsellers of yesteryear and YA, which come in a pretty good selection in ebook.

It doesn’t come close to offering the full selection of the library (even within popular fiction) but its pretty neat.

Yes, all the time. My library offers them in multiple download formats, so you just choose Kindle, e-pub, etc.


All the time. The Queens and Brooklyn libraries have multiple formats and most Kindle books can be sent directly to the Kindle over wi-fi ( a few require downloading the book to a computer and then transferring the file to the Kindle). I use both libraries because the selections are different.

I still get hard copy books from the library , so the ebooks don’t save me money as much as they add convenience- I don’t have to get to the library to pick up holds as often, and I don’t have to carry multiple books on trips.

Almost all romance from my library too, so I haven’t used it.

It’s not “my” library, but a statewide service that my library is part of. I hoped the selection would be more diverse, but nope.

Does anyone know how it works? I assume it’s like the Kindle Matchbook program, where publishers decide what books to offer. Can a library buy any book in e-format and lend it?

Yes, I do when I can find something. My library, too, offers mostly romances and kids books, but I’ve found a couple of other books that I like.

I’m pretty sure libraries decide which books they want to buy in e-format, and I’m certain they pay more for the book than I would in order to have lending rights. There are a lot of romance novels in the libraries I use, although nowhere near a majority of what’s available. I suspect the reason has to do with how fans borrow books- I’ve often seen people check out 15 or 20 hard-copy Harlequin-type romance novels at once.

I still have a strong preference for borrowing physical paper books, but I have downloaded e-books from my public library as well. Our local branch is three blocks away, en route to the subway station. Also, the Toronto Public Library has an outstanding system for ‘holds’ - research what you want in the online catalogue, place a hold on it, and on average it arrives about a week later.

The liquor store, the bank and the post office are far away, but we cope. One of the things I love about our location in this neighbourhood is the fact the library is so close.

The following books are available for 14-day loan from my Kindle. If anyone would like to read any of these, just PM me with the e-mail you use for your Kindle account.

I liked all of them.

The Fifties by David Halberstam
The Searchers by Alan LeMay
Sixpense House by Paul Collins (a bloggy account of an American moving to the UK)
The Misremembered Man by Christine McKenna (somewhat humorous look at two middle-aged people looking for romance – I liked it a lot and I don’t like romance)
A Family in Time by Charles Dickinson (time travel, sequel to A Shortcut in Time)
Sherlock Holmes - five stories
Dawn by Octavia Butler
Bill the Vampire by Rick Gualtieri
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
The Scourge by A. G. Henley (YA dystopia - I liked it a lot)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer
Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiana (immigrants in NYC)
Nine novels by Somerset Maugham

If enough Dopers are interested – and are willing to share their e-mail with strangers – maybe we could start a lending thread.

Omg YES. That drives me fucking crazy. I wish there was a way to filter out the books categorized as romance but there isn’t (you can pick ONLY a category, but you can’t filter one or a few out). Sometimes they’ll add 2000+ books at a time so it takes forever to go through them all.

We do have a huge selection of other books at least though. The wait lists can get long for some books but they’re usually pretty good about buying a lot of copies if the list gets too long. Some have hundreds of copies. And I check all the time for new additions so I get on the list early. I have tons of good books if anyone wants some! I email them to my friend a lot.

Yes! often. The NYPL has a good selection, although there are lot of romance and self-help (I wonder if publishers provide these at lower rates). I was an early adopter of this option, and initially the getting started instructions were dreadful, they seem better now. I bet there is a fair number of people who got frustrated initially and never bothered to come back. Related to this, for a long time, you had to check the availability of a title in two different places to check hard copy and e copy. Thankfully, after a recent upgrade, you can do one search and see results for both.

And it is awful to browse e-books, the system works much better when you go in looking for a specific title.

Wow, that was a lot of bitching about a free service I avail myself of often! Sometimes there is a long wait for an e-book, but the system does a good job of letting you request it and notifying you when it is available. Sometimes for a popular title, I’ll reserve both hard copy and e-book and cancel whichever one doesn’t come in first.

Infrequently, but now that the kids have Kindles I assume the rate will go up. We too are on a statewide system, (with some preference for your home library) but the pickings are still sort of slim.

Yeah, I’ve gotten to the point where I check at the library before buying an ebook or audio book. I can still count the electronic books that I’ve borrowed from the library with one hand so far:

  • The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella
  • Engaging the Enemy, Elizabeth Moon
  • Tricked, Kevin Hearne
  • Shadow Souls, LJ Smith (Audio book)

They don’t offer Kindle format, but I love the Overdrive epub reader app on my Nexus tablet!

I’ve checked out quite a few ebooks from my library. Initially, they had only epubs and mainly Romance and Cozy mysteries. In the last couple of years, the selection has expanded quite a bit and they now have a lot of kindle format books.

I believe that library ebooks are licenses from the publisher to lend the book for a certain number of times, then the license expires and the book becomes unlendable. Years ago some librarian on a message board said the licenses are for 50 lendings, but that was a long time ago and may have changed.

I have browsed my Mom’s local library, and the sort and search option is so much better than mine. It appears to be the same program, just set up better.

When my library first started lending e-books, they only offered them in epub format and the selection was heavy on the genre-fiction side. After a few years, they started offering Kindle books, and the selection has gotten progressively better over the past couple of years. Our library offers a way to recommend e-books for purchase, so if I can’t find a book there that I know is available on Kindle, I’ll recommend it. It takes a while, but the library has acquired at least fifteen books that I’ve recommended over the past two years. I’m a big fan.

When I first started borrowing Kindle books, I went through the library’s collection alphabetically by author over a few weeks’ time and added the books I was interested in to my “Wish List” in my library account. Once I’d gone through the existing collection, I started just looking at books that have been added recently and choosing potentials from those. I have a huge list, so at any given time, at least a few books I’m interested in are available for check-out. If I really want to read a specific book and it’s not available, I’ll put myself on the waiting list. This is really no different from what happens with physical copies of popular new books, and if I’m really anxious to read something that has a long waiting list, sometimes I break down and just buy it instead.

As for the preponderance of romance novels (and cheap detective novels, for that matter), it is annoying to have to wade through the books rather than being able to filter them by type (other than fiction or non-fiction), but when I thought about it, I realized that the physical books in my library have the same limitation. You just have to get good at “reading” the cover art and typefaces so you can skim over them quickly.

All in all, checking out e-books from the library is the main use for my Kindle, and I’ve eliminated a lot of stress and guilt from not returning a giant stack of physical books on time. Once I’m done with an e-book, I can return it through Amazon and get another without ever leaving my chair. As an added benefit, I now read about twice as much as I used to, and because it’s so easy to browse through the e-books, I believe I read a wider selection of books, especially non-fiction, than I used to.

You don’t need Kindle format books, you guys, they’re easy to convert with the program Calibre. I have a Kindle and I still get all mine as epub.

Yeah, anything with curly script and a shirtless man and a woman with a heaving bodice on the cover or the word “blood” anywhere in title (always vampires) or a title that is 50 shades of anything, or any number of shades of anything really (there are a lot of knockoffs) is right out. But there are always going to be some romances that don’t look like romances and some that look like them but aren’t.

Are your libraries using Overdrive? Because I can sort fiction by a bunch of categories under “subject” (although that’s probably not the best word.) It would be better if I could choose multiple subjects in the same search, but I don’t really think anyone would really want to filter out only the romance books.

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