Libraries stock up digital editions of popular titles

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011
— Libraries throughout Wisconsin, including Janesville's Hedberg Public Library, geared up for the holiday season by buying hundreds of electronic copies of popular books.

The Wisconsin Public Library Consortium wanted to avoid the problems of last year, when residents who signed up for the consortium after receiving an e-book reader for Christmas were disappointed to find long waits for popular titles.

This year, the consortium bought extra copies of popular titles. If 100 people had reserved the new John Grisham book, for instance, that's how many electronic copies were purchased, said Carol Kuntzelman, head of technical services and collection manager for Hedberg. She also is a member of the state's selection committee.

The state consortium works with OverDrive, a national distributor of e-books and other digital content.

In addition to electronic copies of books purchased by the consortium, Hedberg used a $5,000 grant to buy extra electronic copies of popular titles and makes them available only to Hedberg library card holders.

That program was created because popular titles have sometimes not been available to patrons, Kuntzelman said.

"We want to keep these customers," she said. "We are really pushing getting some multiple titles—30 to 40 of the big authors—statewide. We're putting thousands of dollars into this."

Examples of some of the popular books include "The Litigators," by John Grisham; "Unbroken," by Laura Hillenbrand; "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," by Stieg Larsson; "Explosive Eighteen," by Janet Evanovich; and "The Boy in the Suitcase," a popular Scandinavian mystery.

When patrons go online to the Hedberg library website, they'll find something to their liking, she predicted.

More customers are linking to the consortium now that Amazon has come on board with its e-reader called the Kindle, Kuntzelman said.

Some major publishers do not yet offer electronic versions of their books, but the consortium hopes they will "move into the 21st century" now that Amazon is a member, Kuntzelman said.

The Arrowhead Library System, of which Hedberg is a member, participates in the state program that will spend $1 million for new content in 2012.

A majority of that will go to e-books. Some money will continue to be spent on audio downloads, Kuntzelman said.

"I'm not saying that print is going to go completely away anytime soon, but I do think there is a place for the downloadable," Kuntzelman said.

Hedberg's downloads tripled last year.

"We really think this is the future," she said.


To register with OverDrive, the online e-book service of the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium, go to the Hedberg Public Library website, hedbergpubliclibrary.org, and click on the link for OverDrive.

Patrons must have a library card to download books. Patrons can register online for cards but must go to the library within a month to provide proof of residency.

Carol Kuntzelman, a library staff member, said officials are working to make the process more user friendly, and patrons are encouraged to call the library at (608) 758-6600 or visit the library if they have difficulty registering.

Last updated: 7:02 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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