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    Posted March 22, 2014 by

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    Free e-book borrowing from libraries gaining in popularity online


    There’s a new trend in town – across plenty of small towns and big cities alike, that is. The popularity of borrowing free e-books via library websites seems to be a growing trend, reports the Daily Chronicle.


    It’s a practice that this journalist has undertaken and witnessed personally. As a child growing up in Chicago, I frequented the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library many a night with my mother and sister in order to fulfill homework assignments.


    Years later, after moving to Ohio and becoming a credentialed writer, I made great use of the free library cards I gained from both the Akron-Summit County Public Library and the Cleveland Public Library systems. Trekking across miles to gather free books to read for my children and myself seemed worth the gas it took to avoid paying for a stack of pricey books from Barnes & Noble.


    Getting e-books for free online


    Something changed in 2013, when I longed to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. The Kindle digital edition of the Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 pick appeared somewhat highly priced at the time at $9.99 on Amazon for the Random House tome. Balking at paying nearly 10 bucks for the e-book, I wondered if my local library had a way of providing the book to read for free online. My research led me to discover Overdrive, a service hooked up with local libraries that allowed readers to find and borrow e-books, videos and audiobooks from more than 27,000 public libraries and schools around the world.


    Through that service, I was finally able to borrow the Wild book I’d been longing to read, and I downloaded it right to my Kindle reading device. Part of me thought it would stay there forever, as if I was somehow smarter than the systematic stipulations that electronically and automatically return the e-book back to the library after the checkout period is done. Alas, I berated myself for not turning off my Wi-Fi connection on my Kindle prior to completely reading the book, so I ended up purchasing the Kindle edition of the popular work anyway after it went on sale later – but at least my knowledge of borrowing free library e-books was born.


    Other free e-book online options for children’s books


    It’s not merely moms looking for escapism fueling the desire for great e-book reads, but folks seeking to expand their children’s online library options as well. Publisher’s Weekly has revealed that even though e-book sales dipped from their previous Hunger Games and Divergent-fueled hysteria of past years, a resurgence is likely for 2014 and the years to follow.


    “For the first nine months of 2013, e-book sales accounted for 15% of all children’s units and while that was a slight decline from 2012, e-book sales as a percentage of all sales will likely grow again in 2014 and beyond,” reported PW.  This growth in the segment of children’s e-books no doubt belies the statistics of people searching for places to acquire kids books for free. Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner tool reports thousands of searches online for terms like “free kids books” and “free children’s books” each month.


    Internet retailers are answering the call and providing a healthy supply for the demand in unique ways. Websites like MagicBlox offer parents and teachers a choice to download one book per month for free for their children to read online or on a tablet device, as well as paid monthly subscription services for a nominal fee to garner additional e-books for kids to soak up.


    The changing face of the reading future


    Never could bibliophiles have predicted that by 2014, libraries would be offering digital editions of books via mobile apps – and even allow e-book readers such as an iPad, Nook or Kindle Touch to be loaned for free for 21 days to library patrons, such as in the case of The Edith Wheeler Memorial Library.  These days, a library book can be searched for, checked out and returned without the patron ever leaving the comfort of their own home – and potentially never experiencing another lost book or late fine again. What will they think of next?

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