Raleigh, N.C. — Readers don't have to leave their homes now to check out a book from Wake County Public Libraries.
Wake County libraries has opened one of the region's first program to let users check out eBooks.
The library has about 150 digital titles and offers five copies of each. Staff add new titles from The New York Times' Best Sellers list each week.
Library staff shifted funding from the existing budget for print books amid growing demand for an eBook program, said Danielle Clark, with Wake County libraries.
"I think a lot of people got eReaders for Christmas," Clark said.
People with a valid Wake County library card can go the library web site, browse the virtual collection, and download an eBook to their home computer.
Books can be read either on the home computer or transferred to compatible eReaders, including the Sony Reader or Barnes & Noble's Nook. Amazon's Kindle is not compatible because it uses properietary software.
Developers are working on apps for iPads, Androids and BlackBerry smart phones.
Books can be checked out for up to three weeks and are automatically returned at the end of the check-out period – meaning no late fees for patrons or lost books the library has to replace.
"That would be wonderful," said Tiffany Wheeler, who had brought her two sons to the library. "We have trouble returning books."
"We don't have to worry about people dropping books in the bathtub or losing them on an airplane," Clark said.
Clark said she's happy to be part of a wave of libraries who aren't clinging to their hardcovers but are embracing electronic forms of reading.
"This is a great way for people to read however they want," she said.