Borders is closing and about to be liquidated. Barns and Noble is removing shelf space for books and replacing books with toys and gadgets. (see Kristine Rusch’s post about same here that goes into some detail about the Borders fallout) The bottom line – bookstores are getting pinched, which translates to publishers getting squeezed. I started wondering what effect this might have on my local library.
Where do libraries get their books, anyway? They get them, after various channels of distribution, from publishers. So if publishers are producing fewer books because there is no Borders and BnN is reducing shelf space, it means in the long run, libraries will start to have fewer new authors to put on their shelves. They’ll still have plenty of Stephen King and James Patterson and Shakespeare and Agatha Christie (the top two all time best selling authors with 4 billion estimated sales each), but will libraries have new authors? Will they go digital?
For an interesting and lengthy article on how libraries began, go to The Straight Dope here.
I asked Google that question – do libraries lend digital books and I was surprised to discover the answer is yes. Amazon decided back in April, 2011 to allow readers to borrow books digitally and even renew them though its e-reader, Kindle. At more than 11,000 libraries, later this year, borrowers will be able to check out books and read them on any Kindle device, or on any of the various Kindle apps. According to Amazon.com you’ll be able to borrow Kindle library books from libraries that work with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for libraries. You might want to check with your library now to see if they have this program and if not, work with your local library to see that they get it. This lending program might help keep many libraries open that would otherwise close. Libraries are already under financial strain due to the current economic reality, and are facing budget cuts, reduced hours or even closure all across the planet, but that’s the topic of a different post.
Kindle digital lending is good news for libraries, which I think will become book museums almost, as fewer and fewer new hardcopy books come out.
You can ask what your local bookstore is going to look like next year, or five years down the road, but you might want to ask the same thing about your local library.
For more information about your public local library…Go.