Statistically, though, ebooks are still a small part of public libraries' overall service program.
As I remember, DVDs were similarly, if not equally, popular and demonstrated exponential growth in circulation during their first few years of availability at the Middleton Public Library. Your library, too, I imagine. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find any numbers prior to 2004 in "The Archives".)
But as the last 2 tables in this post indicate, there is clearly an "exponential" ebook trend developing.
Grasping the e-book era. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/1/2012)
Excerpt: Indeed, it’s a plot line worthy of the best page turner: The public desperately wants access to e-books, which marry all the good things libraries have always offered — expertly curated reading selections, available to all at no cost — to more modern conveniences such as 24/7 virtual checkout from any branch and the end of overdue fines (the books simply disappear from the borrower’s computer or reading device when the loan period is up).
Libraries, sensing a golden opportunity for renewed relevance after years of slashed budgets and Internet encroachment on their turf, want to provide that access.
SIDEBAR: Encroachment? I'd rather make the case for libraries putting out the welcome mat and making the necessary adjustments in their service programs.
"Now back to our regularly schedule program."
Still, the biggest stumbling block, surprisingly, turns out to be book publishers themselves. Libraries have always been their allies in the fight to keep America reading, but now it appears many publishers see them as one more competitor with the potential to put them out of business. Increasingly, they’re refusing to play nice with libraries, charging them much more for e-books than printed copies — or refusing to sell them e-books at all.
Can this story have a happy ending?
For all the excitement surrounding e-books, they’re still a small part of what libraries do. Atlanta-Fulton Library users checked out 3,863,558 items in 2011, of which 45,083 were e-books or e-audiobooks. Cobb’s [County Public Library System] 345,112 library card holders currently include 8,634 users of the digital download service.
SIDEBAR: Cobb County background:
Lee's Budget Cuts Would Close 13 of 17 Cobb Libraries. (Marietta Patch, 4/8/2011)
Cobb budget spares libraries, unsettles public safety officials. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/12/2011)
And more generally, the AJC's "Property Tax Meltdown" series.
In the next 2 tables, you can clearly see the "exponential" trend developing in Wisconsin
Ebook circulation 2010-2011
Patrons with checkouts, 2010-2011
Source: Wisconsin Public Library Consortium
Wisconsin public library circulation, 2000-2010
And I quote from "Bringing Up an E-Reader". (3/29/2012)
The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board weighs in on ebooks and libraries. (3/19/2012)
Carl Zimmer responds to Franzen. (1/31/2012)
It's only Monday but this is still the best ebook headline of the week. (1/20/2012)
Jonathan Franzen has something to say about ebooks. (1/30/2012)
As they have been doing all along, libraries adapt to technology. (1/29/2012)
Floating an Idea: The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory's Library License. (1/17/2012)
Getting in line @ your library for ebooks. (1/15/2012)
The Post-Christmas ebook sales surge. (1/10/2012)
Honey, we've been 'trying' it. For years. (12/25/2011)
Chris Bohjalian on our totemic connection to books. (12/20/2011)
Hold that bricks-and-mortar bookstore obituary. (12/13/2011)
Your local public library: The greenest option of all in the ebooks vs. print books debate. (12/11/2011)
Go directly to Amazon, do not pass library. (11/3/2011)
Ebooks in U.S. public libraries. (10/22/2011)
How ebook buyers discover books. (9/27/2011)
Cookbooks make the transition to digital publishing. (9/27/2011)
Redefining what an ebook is and who gets to publish it. (9/19/2011)
The L.A.Times on ebooks: An Amazon tablet, push into interactivity. (9/16/2011)
The Economist: "Great digital expectations". (9/16/2011)
Lev Grossman presents a short history of the reading device.. (9/6/2011)
Speaking of gadgets, here's the latest iteration of ebooks. (8/25/2011)
Sounds like another digital divide in the making. (7/30/2011)
Libraries and ebooks: Any book, not any time soon. (6/1/2011)
On the distinction between the book reader and the book owner. (5/10/2011)
Demand for ebooks grows exponentially in Wisconsin. (5/2/2011)
Struggling to find an ebook common agenda between libraries and publishers. (4/5/2011)
Ebooks and libraries: "The challenges just keep piling up". (3/28/2011)
Publishers Weekly tracks ebook sales. (3/18/2011)
Word is getting out: Ebooks @ your library. (3/18/2011)
Ebooks continue to gain market share. (3/17/2011)
Publishers look to bottom line in formulating ebook policies for libraries. (3/15/2011)
News stories on HarperCollins ebook decision go mainstream. (3/5/2011)
9 years of book sales: trade and ebook. (2/17/2011)
Will ebook readers be wooed by Barbara Cartland? (2/12/2011)
The impact of ebooks on libraries. (2/11/2011)
OverDrive news release: Library eBook circs up 200% in '10. (1/10/2011)
Mashable: 5 ebook trends that will change the future of publishing. (12/29/2010)
Christmas 2010 the tipping point for ebooks? (12/24/2010)
Ereader as brown paper bag. (12/9/2010)
The ebook reader compatibility surprise. (12/3/2010)
Ereader ownership: Survey says.... (11/30/2010)
David Carnoy asks, "Does the Kindle pay for itself?" (11/29/2010)
Need to repair that ebook reader? (11/19/2010)
Who uses an ereader: Survey says.... (9/22/2010)
Book industry wrestles with print vs. pixels. (9/2/2010)
Coming soon to a screen near you: Ads in ebooks. (8/20/2010)
Ebooks now comprise 8.5% of book sales. (8/12/2010)
Genre paperback publishers drops print. (8/6/2010)
Ebooks and libraries. (5/4/2010)
Ebooks eliminate a free form of adversiting: the book jacket. (3/31/2010)
Ebooks: another round of false promises? (3/19/2010)
The skinny on ebooks. (3/8/2010)
Hardcover vs. ebook: Breaking down the costs. (3/1/2010)