By Kevin Kelley
If you have questions on how to use a recently purchased iPad or Android tablet computer to read e-books, the Fairview Park Branch Library is the place to be Tuesday.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, the OverDrive digital bookmobile will be at the Cuyahoga County Public Library branch, located at 21255 Lorain Road. OverDrive, a Garfield Heights-based company that digitally distributes e-books, audiobooks and music, sends the bookmobile to libraries across the nation to educate users on how to access its content.
OverDrive is a leading supplier of lendable content to public libraries and schools. The size of a big-rig truck, the bookmobile is equipped with laptop computers, high-definition monitors and interactive learning stations. Its gadget gallery features the latest smartphones and tablet devices, including iPads, Android and Nook tablets and Sony Readers.
Since OverDrive launched its digital bookmobile five years ago, around 100,000 people have visited it during its travels through the United States and Canada, according to David Burleigh, OverDrive’s director of marketing.
The company has an 80-percent market share among U.S. libraries, Burleigh said, although schools are currently a faster-growing segment.
Early users of e-books read them on desktop or laptop computers, Burleigh said. But the trend is clearly toward use of tablet computers, he noted, adding that nearly 50 percent of e-books being checked out today are being read on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones.
“Reading e-books has become a very popular pastime,” Burleigh said.
Book publishers decide on the terms of access to e-books, Burleigh noted. Although it’s technically possible for an e-book to be borrowed by an unlimited number of users simultaneously, most publishers prohibit this, fearing loss of revenue.
“Publishers are trying to decide what’s the best model for them,” Burleigh explained, adding that a few are selling e-book packages that permit simultaneous users.
Burleigh said a visit to his company’s digital bookmobile is a great way for people unfamiliar with e-books to learn about them and for those with mobile devices to get their questions answered.
“We’re really there to help anyone and everyone learn how to access and enjoy e-books at their library,” he said.
OverDrive’s digital bookmobile visited the Fairview Park branch in 2008. But a lot has changed in digital media since then, branch manager Elaine Wilkinson said.
“We get lots of questions,” she said, especially from individuals who have recently received tablets as gifts from their children. “They come in not knowing how to set it up and make the connections.”
E-book vendors, such as Apple, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, make it extremely easy for consumers to purchase e-books, Wilkinson noted. But, she said, it takes a few more steps for people to borrow books through their library accounts.
Personnel from OverDrive and the county library system will be prepared to answer those kinds of questions, Wilkinson said. People can bring their own devices and ask questions about them, she added.
“I don’t think print will ever truly go away,” Wilkinson said. But she has noticed that e-books are growing in popularity among readers of all ages. A tablet or e-reader can be especially handy when wanting to take several books while traveling, such as during a vacation, she added.