We’re moving into a world where ebooks are a common (and for some, preferred) format for reading. They’re convenient, portable, useful for those with vision problems, and often cheaper than their paper counterparts. I’m not going to go near the arguments over paper versus ebooks – there are positives and negatives for both, and personally I am happy to read either, although I do prefer one over the other in various contexts (ie: I prefer paper for children’s books and anthologies, happy to read novels on my reader or phone, etc). But whether we love them or loathe them, as a format ebooks are becoming a major force for readers. Libraries are grappling with how to deal with ebooks on a technical level, but we also need to think about not just how we get the into the “hands” of readers, but also how we even bring them to our patrons’ attention in the first place!
In a traditional library, staff showcase books, rotate them through face-out sections of shelves, create themed displays and use a myriad of other techniques to draw attention to books. We don’t have all of the same options with ebooks. There is no physical product to display, to thrust at patrons and gush over. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give ebooks the same push we do print.
So what are some ways we can promote our ebook collections? To start with, we can use some of the old methods, with just a little tweaking. Print off ebook cover art and blurbs in good-sized font and mix them into print book displays, with a logo that indicates the book can be borrowed from the ebook collection. Or showcase ebooks in a display of their own, to draw attention to the collection as a whole.
Moving on from the physical, use the library’s webpage, Facebook page or Twitter account to let followers know as new ebooks are added to the collection. Link to Goodreads reviews or have staff and patrons review them, on the digital library interfaces or in newsletters and other library publications. Make sure you select ebooks as well as print for your book clubs and reading groups. It could be worth creating genre-folders with covers and blurbs of ebooks, to raise interest and awareness in new ebook users – this will give you something to thrust at the eager readers and talk about with them.
Those are just a few ideas – would love to hear how others are promoting ebooks in their libraries!