Digital books outpacing print in some libraries

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Jen Marra photo/ George Camizzi of Cape May Court House visits the Cape May County Library Tuesday, Jan. 15, to find a book on how to use an altimeter for when he goes back packing or hiking. George Camizzi of Cape May Court House visits the Cape May County Library Tuesday, Jan. 15, to find a book on how to use an altimeter for when he goes back packing or hiking.

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Digital books are gaining momentum in Cape May County.

In the last year, patrons took out more ebooks books offered by the county library than total books and other materials from the Stone Harbor and Woodbine library branches.

Cape May County Library director Deborah Poillon said she isn’t surprised. Nor is she concerned.

She has seen ebooks grow in popularity, but she says people will continue to read books in hard copy as well. More physical books were circulated through the county library system than in 2011.

In 2012, 19,948 ebooks were taken out from the library system, compared to the circulation of 17,678 items at the Woodbine library branch and 16,598 at Stone Harbor, according to figures provided by Poillon.

The Woodbine and Stone Harbor branches are small libraries in the county system, she said.

The library has about 4,000 ebooks and Poillon said she expects about that amount to be purchased for this year.

The budget for ebooks has grown, from $45,000 last year to $85,000 this year, according to Poillon.

Bestsellers and romance are popular ebooks.

 “This is Cape May County, so mystery is still king,” Poillon said.

She owns a Kindle and finds herself tapping into the library’s ebook system.

“It’s really just a matter of economics,” she said.

Not everyone sold on ebooks, though.

Cozette Gasser of North Cape May was holding two books when browsing the shelves at the Court House library Friday morning. She said she probably reads three books a week and enjoys mysteries.

She’s not interested in ebooks, but has noticed that many people have Kindles.

A large amount of ebooks being checked out means the library is “really doing something right,” she said.

Gasser heads to the Villas and the Cape May Court House libraries for programs, like a cooking demonstration last week.

Jerry Perlstein of Cape May Point said he visits the Court House library two to three times a month.

He likes hardcopy nonfiction books, such as on science and finance.

“And they’re very good here,” he said.

If he sees a new book he wants, the library orders it in, Perlstein said.

On Friday morning at the Court House library, he was looking at a bulletin board with posters of library programs.

The library also saw a 9 percent spike in circulation. There were 622,392 items circulated last year, which includes books and ebooks. About two-thirds of the library’s circulation is books, Poillon said.

While more people are coming to the programs and using the Internet at the libraries, they are checking out books, she said.

Computer usage increased by 22 percent, audio 33 percent and programs, 44 percent, according to information from Poillon.

The library added additional programs, such as bringing exercising classes last year to the Stone Harbor Recreation Center.

Also in 2012, the library started the Technology Learning Center, offering computer demonstrations and adult workshops.

The library is also exploring the idea of a game night for people in their 20s and 30s. Poillon said that age group that is often overlooked.

“We have enough money that we can do things,” she said.

Other libraries aren’t so fortunate, she said.

The library’s budget is $1.1 million for books, magazines and more, which is about the same amount as last year.

The overall budget is $6.196 for 2013 and last year $6.038 million. The library has 97 staff members.

For more information on the library, see www.cmclibrary.org.


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