In a June 29th press release, Sony(NYSE:SNE) announced a program reaching out to public libraries around the country. As the popularity of eBooks has expanded throughout the market, libraries have seemed to many to be on the decline. To combat this, many have built up their own eBook lending library using services such as Overdrive Digital Library to keep up with the times. Sony’s new program will encourage such things by providing library staff with training and educational materials related to eBooks and eReaders, as well as providing a number of their own eReader devices to library staff. This will, if successful, continue indefinitely with refresher courses offered every other year to keep up with the times.
This is not the first intrusion of eReader devices into the institutional lending environment, however. College libraries around the country have met with enthusiastic responses to their Kindle lending opportunities and some schools have reported waiting on lists for months to have a shot at a week with the Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) favorite. Sony is not, from the wording of their release, going to be sending out devices specifically to lend out, but even the extra exposure to the public should make a difference.
All said, anything that gets more people reading is good and anything that increases access to digital texts has to be great. It’s increasingly clear that the future of the book industry lies in the realm of the digital, so anything that can ease the transition for hesitant readers is going to do a lot for everybody’s peace of mind.