Free e-books widely available from public libraries

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At my home, we get weekly calls from the public library about overdue books that our children have borrowed. But a new era is coming that might see the end of those library robo-calls! Most book publishers are now allowing e-lending of their books via public libraries.

Digital circulation doesn’t work with every e-book reader, but it does work with the Nook Color and a lot of the off-brands coming over from Asia. The typical lending period for each title is about 2 weeks, and you can borrow books online from the comfort of your own home.  When the 2 weeks is over, the book simply disappears from your e-reader. No need to return anything.

Libraries have to buy the rights to lend out e-books, so if there’s a bestseller they want to be able to lend out to multiple people, they must buy multiple digital “copies.” Each copy can only be lent to 1 person at a time, just like a hardcopy book.

Meanwhile, eBookFling.com is a virtual lending library among strangers that I recently discussed. If you have books on your Kindle or Nook, you can list them for lending on this free service and earn credits as others “borrow” them. Borrowers get a 2-week use of that book and you can redeem your credits to borrow e-books from others.

Note: This segment originally aired March 2011

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