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Ponnada: Library keeps up

BY SRI PONNADA | DECEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa City Public Library now has Kindles for rent. This is great.

By slowly trying to adapt to the new technology available, the Public Library is encouraging more people to read.

Two of the Kindles are loaded with children’s e-books, while the other two have popular adult e-books, such as Fifty Shades of Grey.

Literary enthusiasts have been wailing for ages about the huge decline in book-reading in this generation. Actually, one-fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year, according to new research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

There is also the notion that the feel of reading an e-book isn’t the same as that of reading a “real” book. However, persons using e-books not only tend to read more often than non-e-book users, they also read more books overall. The research showed that a typical e-book user read 24 books in the past year, compared with their non-e-book user counterparts, who reported to have read 15.

It has become an accepted truth that many people no longer read books. However, that idea is not entirely true. According to a December 2011 national survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans under age 30 are more likely than older adults to do reading of any sort — and three-quarters of younger Americans say they read for fun.

Kindles can be checked out on a non-renewable three-week loan period with an overdue fine of $1 per day. That’s somewhat reasonable, but the e-books on the Kindles are limited to the titles loaded on them, and patrons can’t download other titles through OverDrive or Amazon.

However, for people such as me who find it awfully difficult to find the right e-book format and then download it onto the device, this makes things easy. Many persons are also willing to learn how to be tech-savvy enough to figure out downloading.

A Pew Research Center survey of non-e-book readers shows that 33 percent of respondents under age 30 say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to take a library class on how to download e-books onto handheld devices.

Having Kindles for patrons to check out at the Public Library isn’t just promoting e-book use, it also encourages people to read as a whole. E-books or paperback, “p-books” — books are books. As long as people read them, why should we complain?


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