Northern Ireland

E-book loan record for libraries in Northern Ireland

Woman reading eBook
Image caption E-books are becoming more popular, but Libraries NI said the download service will not spell the end of the traditional library

Northern Ireland's libraries lent a record number of e-books on Sunday.

Libraries NI marketing officer Julie Campbell said 446 books were downloaded in a single day for reading on tablet computers and mobile devices.

The e-book service began three years ago this month, and the number of users has been growing steadily.

During July 2011, the first month of the service, a total of 363 e-books were downloaded. So far this month, users have downloaded 9,439 titles.

Ms Campbell said the daily download figure currently averages somewhere between 200 and 300 e-books, and she is not sure why there was such a spike on Sunday.

"It's probably because it was raining," she said.

The e-book service is available across Northern Ireland, and Ms Campbell said there was no need to even leave the house to get started.

"You can go on the website to sign up there and then, and have an e-book downloaded within 10 minutes - you don't have to go into a library," she said.

"It's really straightforward - you fill in a form, get a code number and then you can download the software to your device."

She said there was no need to worry about having to pay library fines if you forget to leave back the book as it is automatically deleted from your device after three weeks.

"We've been trying to promote the service all summer and we're delighted by the response," she said.

"Why pay for books when you can borrow them? A lot of people think the library is just old books, but we've got lots of the new summer releases."

While e-books are growing in popularity, Ms Campbell said it did not spell the end of the traditional library.

"I think there's still room for both - a lot of people still prefer to read on paper, and we've got people who are borrowing books as well as using the e-book service," she said.

Libraries NI's previous daily download record was set on 12 January this year, when 442 e-books were borrowed by users of the service.

Ms Campbell said that was an unusually high figure and attributed the spike to users getting new tablet computers and mobile devices as Christmas presents.

Since the start of this year, the most popular genre for e-book borrowers in Northern Ireland has been romantic fiction, followed by the work of crime writers.

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