Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, May 1, 2015

E-books and the Physical World

So, when one hears the term e-book one tends to think online resources and a portable reading device.  One doesn’t necessarily think to find an e-book in a physical store or library but that has actually been changing for a while now, albeit slowly, to include the establishment of the first bookless public library in San Antonio, Texas.  The BiblioTech has a catalog of 10,000 e-books according to an article in Oct 2013 – here’s the link:

What’s really interesting is that this bookless library is in an area of San Antonio where 40% of the neighborhood households (at least at the time of the article) lack a computer and half lack access to broadband/internet services.  So, the absence of technology in one area helped give birth to the use of it in another area.  As they say, life is stranger than fiction at times.

Here’s the link for the BiblioTech library – it’s really cool so check it out but it appears to only be available to those who live in the county, which is not unusual for a public library.

However, libraries still have the challenge of the cost of bringing e-books to their patrons, so this library in San Antonio is a bit of a marvel in my opinion.  An obvious thought would seem to be that e-books would cost less than the physical books but they often cost more so it’s not unusual for libraries to have more limited content for e-books than the actual physical choices.  Still, it also depends on the preferences of the library patrons which can vary widely throughout the country. Some patrons still lean towards having a physical book.

Libraries, and the many reader programs they offer, are often a great place for writers to build their reader base or even for new writers to become discovered so when libraries suffer so do readers and writers.  Libraries have also been under increasing budget pressures which, according to librarians with whom I have talked, can greatly impact on their e-book purchasing decisions.  So, if you are an Indie published author and you only have the e-book format available there can be significant challenges to placing your book in a wide enough selection of libraries to increase your reader base.

In the end it all comes back to discoverability.  Just because you write it doesn’t mean they’ll read it, especially if they can’t discover you.  Writers connecting with readers, a challenge that has been around, well ever since there have been writers and readers, is truly the second most important pillar for writers – the first is completing the writing project in the first place.


  1. Our library has a large selection of e-books. I talked to one librarian once who said it was almost harder keeping up with the renewal of on-line permissions and licenses than it was to keep up with paperbacks and hardcovers.

  2. It's gotten easier with e-books. Many of our patrons choose ebooks now. Paying fees on line is another great step for the under 40 set. They use their debit cards for almost everything. Our budget is still bigger for physical books though and I hope that continues for many more years.