From Phones to Palms

By Reuters -  |  Posted 2008-08-08 Print this article Print

Library branches in Phoenix have banded together to create a digital library that currently has about 50,000 titles of e-books, audiobooks, music and videos that can be "checked out" from anywhere.


One of the main distributors to libraries is OverDrive Inc, based in Cleveland, which has deals with publishers including HarperCollins and Random House as well as music labels like Alligator Records.

David Burleigh, OverDrive's director of marketing, says the company now has an inventory of around 100,000 titles, works with about 7,500 libraries and has racked up millions of downloads of its media player and digital check-outs.

"We also know we are touching only a small percentage of each library's patrons. Everyone we talk to is like 'Wow, you do that?'" he says. "It's a like this nice secret, that we of course don't want to be kept secret."

Although it depends on publisher permission, books can usually be transferred from a desktop computer to any number of mobile devices.

Sony Corp's Reader, SanDisk Corp's Sansa, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Blackjack, Palm Inc's Treo 700wx, Motorola Inc's Q, Microsoft Corp's Zune, iRiver's 510, Hewlett-Packard Co'siPAQ, Dell Inc's Axim, Creative Technology Ltd's ZEN, AT&T Inc's Cingular Smartphone, and Apple's iPhone and iPods can all be used with the downloads, depending on the title and the library.

"People like the portability of it," Jim McCluskey, collection development assistant manager for Washington State's Sno-Isle Libraries, which will soon be offering iPod compatible downloads.

While having a collection of books and music available for downloads helps libraries keep up with changes in technology, McCluskey said, it carries other advantages, too.

"A lot of our libraries are cramped for space," he notes. "Material that doesn't take up shelf space and is available 24/7 -- that's really attractive for libraries."

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)


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