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Public Library Offers a Virtual Reading Experience  

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By Melonie Magruder
Lookout Staff

October 7, 2011 -- The Santa Monica Public Library is headed to the future with an expanding collection of eBooks, thanks to Amazon’s recent decision to make titles available for checkout to their Kindle readers.

Owners of e-Reader devices, such as iPads, Androids, Nooks and iPhones have been able to check out virtual books from the public library since late last year, but Amazon has recently made available to libraries all titles in its Kindle repertoire.

This means you can search, find, download and read a library book without ever having to leave the comfort of your Barcalounger. All you need is a library membership and PIN.

“We introduced eBooks for check-out last December,” Reference Librarian Cynni Murphy said. “And the response was extremely favorable. Between December and June, we checked out 4,982 individual eBooks.”

The process is much like checking out a hard copy book, after your reading device downloads the software required. OverDrive, the company that provides the check-out software and acts as middleman between publishers and libraries, holds 2,710 titles ranging from the latest by Dan Brown to works by the Dalai Lama.

Library patrons can choose checkout “windows” of seven, 14 or 21 days and may only check out three eBooks at a time. Holds may be placed if all copies of a particular eBook have been checked out.

“We also have audio books available to download,” Murphy said. “It’s a whole new way of reaching our reading audiences.”

Interested library patrons may check out available eBook titles at the library website:

“I can’t really say if there are any particularly popular titles going out as eBooks,” Murphy said. “People who read eBooks have as varied taste as readers of our print books.”

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