Long shunned, ebooks are becoming the order of the day

·1-min read
Faced with extended school and bookstore closures, public libraries such as the London Library made it possible for members to loan digital books as part of their subscriptions.

As one of the more beneficial effects of the pandemic, literature lovers seem to have finally embraced the ebook. This format, long considered the poor relation of the book market, is experiencing a revival of interest thanks to public and school libraries.

This new enthusiasm for electronic books has been keeping the digital lending service, OverDrive particularly busy. The company found that librarians allowed readers around the world to borrow 506 million ebooks, audiobooks and digital magazines in 2021. This figure is a significant increase (16%) on the previous year.

OverDrive surveyed more than 76,000 libraries and schools in 94 countries to determine whether the pandemic has had an impact on people's reading habits . And it would appear that it has: about 100 of the libraries surveyed surpassed the symbolic one million mark in ebook loans last year.

For good reason, many public libraries, such as the London Library, have allowed members to loan digital books as part of their subscriptions, in the face of extended school and bookstore closures. "The Coronavirus situation has reinforced the importance of online content at a time when accessing physical collections can be more difficult," the British institution said in September 2020.

Some ebooks have been especially popular among borrowers in the last 12 months. These include Barack Obama's memoir's "A Promised Land," and Jessica Bruden's "Nomadland," which inspired Chloe Zhao's multi-award-winning movie. Kristin Hannah's novel "The Four Winds" has also been very popular, as has J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

Caroline Drzewinski

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