The book industry has evolved in a big way with the arrival of the e-book and it appears that readers are ready to evolve right along with it.
On Saturday, the Mary L. Stephens Branch Public Library, at 315 E. 14th St., offered a free digital media download service seminar to teach Yolo County Library cardholders how to utilize their free e-book checkout service.
More than 100 people packed the Blanchard Community Room to hear the librarians go over in detail how to sign up, sign in, browse and download the more than 1,000 titles — from classics to bestsellers, children’s books and more — the library has at its disposal for e-checkout.
“Circulation in that media type is expanding, it’s another way for us to extend use of our collection,” said branch manager Jay Johnstone.
“This is an opportunity, as we see it, to remain relevant. When you see bookstores going out of business because Amazon is taking over that field, we decided that we just have to do this. We cannot ignore the phenomenon.”
The phenomenon could easily be seen on Saturday as the turnout was far greater than Johnstone and librarian Joan Tuss, who was responsible for putting on the event, had both anticipated.
“We didn’t expect this many people,” Johnstone said.
Partnering with OverDrive, a digital media rights company that deals in e-books, audio books, music and video, the library has purchased a number of titles to have “in stock” that Yolo County Library cardholders can checkout just like they would a physical book.
Anyone with a library card can sign up for the service, browse the titles the library has bought and download them — or check them out — for 21 days.
Davis resident Mary Allegoren uses her Android phone and her Kindle to do most of her reading now and was pleased by the forum the library provided to teach her how to use the free service.
“It was a great experience,” Allegoren said. “There was some great information here. Though, now I have to go home and work this all out.”
The service the library provides is free and cardholders aren’t hit with late fees because as soon as the 21-day limit comes up, the service removes the book from the e-reader automatically.
Faster readers also can choose to reduce the amount of days for which they wish to check out books in order to have access to more titles in a shorter period of time. Cardholders can check out four e-books at one time.
The library’s digital media collection also features audio books and a limited selection of music and videos to go along with its e-books.
Sara Johnson, whose parents live in Davis, also commended the library staff for the great information that was presented at the seminar on Saturday.
“They have a lot of titles, which is really great,” Johnson said. “This was all great to learn and incredibly helpful and informative. It sounds like a great program.”
The library has $25,000 in its budget dedicated to its e-books program. With that money the library has bought the 1,000-plus titles in its collection.
Friends of the Davis Public Library also has donated $5,000 to pay for e-reading devices that the library will use for training.
Hank Wyman, president of the Friends group, says that he may be old-fashioned, but regardless of the media, it’s still all about the story.
“We’re amazed at the transformation that the industry has gone through,” Wyman said. “Our main purpose, still, is to encourage reading, however that might happen.”
Though book stores have taken a big hit recently, as seen in Davis with Borders and Sweet Briar Books closing in the past few months, the e-book service will, in fact, help the library’s business, according to Johnstone.
He believes that as they digitize their physical collection of books, they will be able to save on labor and costs of sorting and handling the books. Also, the library one day may have more space for people to work and utilize the facility.
The library offered help on all different types of e-reader devices such as Kindles, Nooks, iPads, Sony Readers and more as each requires different steps to begin use of the program.
Visit www.yolocounty.lib.overdrive.com to begin browsing the titles.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash.