It’s no longer necessary to go to the library for a new book–you can just visit your local library’s website from home or from your mobile phone to check out an e-book. And that practice is taking off. OverDrive, the leading distributor of e-books and digital audiobooks to libraries, reports today that e-book checkouts nearly tripled through September 30, compared to all of 2010. E-books have been checked out 12 million times so far this year.
Contributors to that growth include Kindle and other e-readers adding support for library lending; expanded e-book offerings; and increasing library browsing via mobile phones and tablets.
Many more readers are now browsing library offerings from their smartphones and tablets, and mobile checkouts now make up 21 percent of overall checkouts, OverDrive says. (I’ve asked them to clarify whether that figure means overall e-book checkouts or overall print AND e-book checkouts combined, and will update the post when I hear back.) OverDrive has its own mobile app (which connects to users’ local libraries to let them check out offerings) and many OverDrive member libraries, like the New York Public Library, have released their own mobile apps as well.
Over 15,000 public and school libraries are now using OverDrive’s platform. A recent American Library Association study found that two-thirds of public libraries in the U.S. now offer e-book checkouts.
Sony (NYSE: SNE) included library lending with the launch of its new e-reader in August, and Kindle just gave users the ability to check out books from libraries. Both of these e-readers, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Nook, are OverDrive partners.