I attended Digital Book World in January and was mesmerized by the data guy and Nielsen presenting statistics of who is reading and how. I was fascinated by all that data, and remember an “aha” moment when I learned that I am the primary demographic for e-lending through libraries. I am the right age, I am female, and I make the targeted amount of money. Frankly, I am always looking for a great read (a free book for my daily train ride is great since I rarely read something twice), and buying a book is not on my radar.
Datalogics offers products, services, and support for eBook technologies. One of the products in our arsenal is offering professional services to install and support New York Public Library’s (NYPL) Library Simplified™. This open source software is targeted to libraries and creates an easy means for patrons to quickly access thousands of eBooks and other kinds of digital content online, from a single unified platform. So, I ask, is a single unified user experience that big of a deal when you get the book for free?
As I thought about my own library e-lending encounters, the idea of a unified reading experience became more enticing. My library offers access to OverDrive books and Axis 360 eBooks, which, of course, I am grateful for. When I go to browse books, however, first and foremost I am often disappointed by the lack of new release copies available. I end up reading older books, because that’s my only choice. Don’t get me wrong, older books are still good to read, but I would love to get my hands on a new release sometimes.
Another part of my online experience is that I have no choice, but to make a choice, on how I am going to read. Some books are available for my Kindle, others I have to choose between reading an EPUB, or a PDF. With some titles, my download lands me on Amazon so I can get that book on my lightweight and portable Kindle. Other times, I am forced to use the OverDrive app, which means I am carrying around my iPad. There have been titles where I have to read on my computer, which means the book is not portable at all.
And as the data gurus at Digital Book World pointed out, libraries are the single greatest source for growth in eBooks right now. But, as the average reader in the ideal demographic, what I know I would love to see is a single, simple library experience. When I go into the physical library, I am free to walk the shelves, browsing. When I spot the perfect book, I checkout and have a book in my hand to read. With today’s library online experience, there are too many out of stocks, too many decisions, and too many readers. Simplify and you’ll have me captive.
So that brings me back to NYPL’s Library Simplified solution. Someone must have asked readers what they crave, because this solution is exactly what will captivate me and keep me borrowing books. It includes a universal eBook reader, which is great, but the icing on the cake is that the entire collection available through the library is there for my browsing experience. When I decide it’s the right book, I just borrow it – it’s simple. This is the Shangri-La that this “eBook primary demographic” has been waiting for.