Bestsellers are click away with Burnet County Library system’s eBook program


MARBLE FALLS — Burnet County Library patrons don’t have to visit their local library to check out a book thanks to the addition of an eBook collection.

PHOTO: Library patrons in Burnet County are a click away from reading some of their favorite books thanks to a new eBook program. Library-card holders only need to register through the library’s website to begin checking out eBooks. The Burnet County Library system is holding two workshops Wednesday, Feb. 6, to help patrons make the jump into the eBook revolution. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

But don’t toss away the directions to the physical library just yet, since the eBook collection is still fairly small compared to the traditional books lining the shelves at the four community locations.

“For libraries, eBooks are fairly expensive to purchase,” said Marble Falls Public Library Director Mary Jackson. “And currently, there are only four publishers who allow their books to be digitalized for libraries.”

This means selections focus on the New York Times Bestsellers list, top releases and popular authors. If a reader is looking for the “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell, he or she should probably head to the Herman Brown Free Library in Burnet and look on the shelves under 636.008 FEN.

Still, readers can now enjoy looking through the digital stacks for books they’re interested in downloading on their eReaders. The Burnet County Library eBook program, funded by the four Friends of the Library groups, supports all the major eReaders with the exception of the original Amazon Kindles.

“It has to be the Kindle Fire,” Marble Falls Assistant Library Director Amanda Rose said. “But along with the Kindle Fire, you can use the (Barnes & Noble) Nook, the Sony reader and all the Mac products.”

Patrons also can download the necessary software via their preferred eReader that supports the library program.

Rose said the decision to add eBooks came from patron demand. But it has been something the library system has been studying for the past two years, since the Amazon Kindle set the bar on the eReader market.

“It’s a big learning curve for us,” Jackson said. “It almost puts us in a quandary because we want to keep up with our regular book purchases, but we also want to add eBooks. The demand just keeps growing for the new technologies, but the demand for the older ways is still growing just as fast.”

The eBooks and traditional books are the only items available at the local libraries. Jackson pointed out the Burnet County Library branches carry audiobooks, DVDs and digital music. Often times, a branch might not only purchase the regular book of a title, but the large-print version, the audio version and now the eBook version as well.

Patrons can begin their foray into the library eBook selection by going online to one of the four Burnet County branches — Marble Falls, Herman Brown Free, Bertram or Oakalla — and register with his or her library card. The service is available to all branches.

But like the traditional book, eBooks are only available one at at time. So if somebody already has the eBook version checked out, the individual wanting it can get on a waiting list.

“The checkout period is the same as if it were a physical book,” Jackson said. “When your two weeks are up, the book just goes off the eReader.”

The Burnet County Library system is holding two workshops on eBooks and eReaders. The programs are both Wednesday, Feb. 6. The first is 9 a.m.-noon at the Marble Falls Public Library, 101 Main St. in Marble Falls, and the second is 2-5 p.m. at the Herman Brown Free Library, 100 E. Washington St. in Burnet.

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“It’s pretty exciting for the library and the customers,” Rose said.