If you build it, they will come. Not just words of wisdom from a Kevin Costner movie anymore, but the experience of libraries across America. They’ve seen a triple-digit jump in the amount of digital lending during the last year due, in part, to the increased use of tablet devices such as the iPad, Kindle, and Nook.
News of the jump came from OverDrive, one of the leading global distributors of eBooks and audiobooks, which powers “virtual branch” sites for libraries and schools. Ahead of a full presentation of 2011 statistics at this year’s American Library Association Midwinter Conference, the company announced that its own library website traffic more than doubled to 1.6 billion page views last year, with the number of book and title catalog pages viewed increasing by 130% to 1.6 billion.
Also up by more than 100% was the number of visitor sessions, which rose 107% and resulted in more than 35 million digital titles being checked out during 2011 (17 million titles were put on hold during that time).
Oddly enough, as PaidContent explains, not all book publishers are exactly in favor of digital lending. Only Random Houses offers unlimited library access to e-books; Harper Collins requires books to be repurchased after 26 lendings; Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Hachette withhold library access to their e-book offerings entirely. If library lending traffic for digital offerings continues to grow as it has done in the last year, it’ll be interesting to see whether the publishers change their minds or, of course, grow more determined to make readers buy what they’re looking for.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.