More readers borrowing e-books: NLB

More readers borrowing e-books: NLB
GOING ONLINE: According to NLB, the number of e-books borrowed was 11 million last year, compared with three million in 2009.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

More readers are borrowing electronic books, or e-books, from libraries, with mobile devices making it easy to read while on the go.

As a result, the number of e-books borrowed has almost quadrupled in the past five years.

That number was 11 million borrowed last year, compared with three million borrowed in 2009, according to figures from the National Library Board (NLB).

Physical books still trumped their digital counterparts, with 34 million books borrowed last year.

The books can be accessed through devices such as mobile phones, tablets like the iPad, computers and e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle.

There are more than 3.5 million titles of fiction and non-fiction e-books across four languages available for library users to borrow in a variety of formats, such as PDF, epub, Flash and MP3 (for audio books).

The bulk of them are in English, with about 3.3 million titles, followed by 86,000 titles in Chinese, 2,500 in Malay and 300 in Tamil.

NLB said the majority of English e-books borrowed are works of fiction such as thriller, science-fiction and romance novels. Non-fiction titles on self-improvement are also popular among adult readers.

To download or access the e-books, library users must first sign up for a free myLibrary online account that grants access to various e-book databases on the NLB website. Non-Singaporeans must sign up and pay a fee for library membership.

The 12 databases contain a variety of materials, including works by Singapore authors.

Only two of them - Overdrive and Apabi - allow users to download e-books into their device, which they can read offline for three weeks. The other databases contain materials which require an Internet connection to browse.

Data from the popular Overdrive collection, which contains general fiction and popular titles, showed that more than half of the borrowers are between 30 and 50 years old.

Those between 30 and 39 years old make up the largest percentage at 27 per cent, followed by those aged between 40 and 49, at 26 per cent.

"These users would mainly be the working population, who have busy mobile lifestyles and who read on their electronic devices," NLB said.

Pamela Nai, 37, who works in the finance industry, likes being able to borrow books without having to go to a library. It is a convenient way to read while travelling, she said.

"It's also a good way to find new books to read, as there are categories like The New York Times best-seller list. It's easy to find books when you don't know what to read and want to find something new," she said.

Besides e-book databases, NLB also offers more than 70 e-databases that contain e-newspapers, journals, magazines, music, images and articles.

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