More than 1 million e-books books were checked out of libraries this year—25% more than all of last year—as libraries offer more and more digital lending. Borrowers can check the book out online—obviating the trip to the library—and can read them on a computer or Sony Reader. Only one borrower per book at a time, and the e-book automatically expires after a couple of weeks—eliminating pesky overdue fees.
Still, there are significant hurdles. Copies can't be read on the Kindle or the iPhone. And the publishing industry is nervous about making borrowing from libraries more convenient, seeing it as another disincentive to buy a book. With digital copies, “I don’t have to get in my car, go to the library, look at the book, check it out,” one publishing exec whose house doesn’t sell to libraries tells the New York Times. Abstainers include Macmillan and Simon & Schuster.