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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Books Still Sell

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, July 23, 2017

The current issue of “Publisher’s Weekly” journal reports that the sales of print books during the first half of 2017 has increased 3 percent over the previous year.

 

During that time, a total of 310.7 million paper books were sold in the United States.  I guess people still read paper books!

 

The most popular title was “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss selling nearly a half million copies in paper format.

 

Sales of juvenile books exceeded an increase of 5 percent in 2017, and all categories of books had increased.

 

At the same time, the sales of eBooks continues to increase showing that people are reading more than ever before.

 

We are seeing the same trends at the public library with paper books showing strong usage, and eBook downloads growing about 10 percent every year.

 

One format is not taking usage from the other, but rather there is an overall growth in people reading whatever format they prefer.

 

In the library, we see people that will only read a paperbound book and others that only want eBooks; and some that like both formats.

 

I think some of the growth in books (whatever format) can be traced to the access in the world today to the “book marketplace.”

 

Companies such as Amazon are making the purchase of books much easier than in the past as enormous databases of titles are at your fingertips and can be purchased and shipped to you quickly.

 

At the same time, libraries have automated their collections in the same way as online book sales and people make their selections at home, their office, or even their cell phone.

 

eBooks can be downloaded from the library web site into their own device, and will return themselves after the checkout period.

 

Of course, that is enough to cause an old librarian to faint, but I am getting used to these things that are either “in” a library or connected to the library cloud to do these strange things.

 

“Oh, don’t worry, someday books will be stored in the sky and will check out on their own and return themselves with no overdue fine” was never a statement made in my days at Library School.

 

Now I grant you, “normal books” on library shelves still sort of checkout the old-fashioned way albeit with the use of a computer.

 

But now, people can access their account online to request books, and to renew books that they need for a longer time; or they can contact the library and allow a human to do it for them.

 

And, I have gotten used to all of this new stuff, but in the old days if someone reached across the desk and touched the trays of circulation cards by themselves, you hand might have gotten slapped by the dutiful librarian.

 

So, here we are in 2017 and I received a notification from the Computer Center about something called “Auto Renew,” a new software program that will be instituted at the library soon.

 

If you have a book checked out and it’s due to be returned soon, the computer will send you a reminder message about the book and tell you that it (computers are “it” in my book) will perform an “auto renew” if no one else wants the book.

 

I guess I can get used to this new function, and it will be a good thing just like all those other changes in the library world.

 

And I am not even going to mention the new program that will allow students to download eBooks and search databases at the library without the traditional library card.

 

Yes, people still use public libraries.