Over 75 percent of U.S. libraries lend out ebooks for free and thousands of them have had ebooks available since 2007. A lot of libraries (39.1 percent) even loan out ereaders! You would think most people would know that you could get free ebooks at the library by now. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case according to a new Pew report on libraries.
A shocking 62 percent of people surveyed did not know if their local library offered ebooks. Even more amazing was that 58 percent of library card holders didn’t know you could get ebooks at the library. About half the people that owned a tablet or ereader didn’t know about ebooks at the library either.
Sad. That’s the only word for it. If avid readers, library card holders, and ereader owners don’t know that they can borrow ebooks from their local library then who does? Clearly, there is a huge awareness gap when it comes to ebooks at public libraries.
The biggest factor in the lack of awareness could be the fact that only two of the big six book publishers are willing to offer their ebooks to libraries. This hesistation on the part of the publishers means that libraries can only purchase a small fraction of the available titles being sold. Combine the lack of selection with a limited library ebook budget and it means a small selection and long wait lists. It’s no wonder that libraries are not actively promoting the fact that they lend out ebooks.
The good news is that libraries have a huge opportunity to grow their ebook lending by simply informing the 62 percent of people that don’t know it exists. The bad news is libraries probably need to convince the book publishers to sell them ebooks first.