More Americans are reading eBooks than ever before on more kinds of devices. The popularity of electronic readership is causing the number of eBook loans at local libraries to skyrocket.
Huddled around a table at the Siouxland Library Main Branch in downtown Sioux Falls, 12 people learn how to download electronic library books from the library's growing collection.
After receiving a Kindle Fire as a Christmas gift, Mary Larssen wants to borrow eBooks with her library card. An avid reader, she is taking her passion to the digital level.
"I think this would be an advantage to do it from home when you want a new book," Larssen said.
Cheryl Anderson also received her tablet as a gift.
"I think it's great. It's much easier than carrying a big book around. It fits in your purse. You can take it with you and read it for ten minutes when you have an appointment you're waiting for," Anderson said.
The rising number of eReaders and tablets given as gifts this holiday is an attribute to the dramatic increase in eBook check-outs at Siouxland libraries, according to Electronic Resources Librarian Heather Stephenson.
"A huge up-tick in checkouts especially right around now," Stephenson said. "In December, we had our highest number of checkouts ever, 9,300 checkouts in just one month."
Five years ago, the average eBook checkouts averaged about 100 a month. Today, more than 11,000 unique visitors have downloaded eBooks.
"I just like that it adds another dimension to library service. It takes us beyond our walls," Stephenson said.
Books can be chosen on the library's website or through an app. Once the digital copy is downloaded, it is accessible for one to two weeks and will automatically expire so you'll never have a late fee.
A Pew Research study finds the number of eBook readership increased from 16 percent to 23 percent over the past year in the US. At the same time, the number of those reading printed books fell from 72 percent to 67 percent.
Executive Director Mary Johns wants to evolve and keep up with the ever-changing reading patterns of her users. She's looking at easier-to-use eBook venders and soon, eMagazines will be available.
"We need to meet the needs of our customers and the desires they have," Johns said.
And with a full group at the help meeting, Stephenson is happy about the strong demand for eBooks.
"It seems to me it is getting people to read who weren't reading before," Stephenson said. "That's the most exciting part for me, I think."
And for Larssen and Anderson, the most exciting part is the convenience of their library eBooks.
Visit the Siouxland Libraries' Downloadable Books & Magazines page for more information.