Salt Lake County Library will be one of 35,000 libraries worldwide participating in a two-week "Big Library Read" program, allowing thousands of patrons to read to a free downloadable book.
Starting Wednesday and running through June 1, patrons can download Michael Malone's 2009 novel The Four Corners of the Sky, about a young woman who follows her navy pilot father in adventures across the United States and into Cuba.
The campaign marks a second wind for so-called collective book clubs, in which hundreds and even thousands of people read the same book without ever meeting. The trend was popular during the 1990s and early 2000s. The Salt Lake County Library is no stranger to the idea, having sponsored its own "One Book" program from 2006 to 2008.
This time, the effort will draw attention to the public's increased demand for downloadable titles. OverDrive, a distributor of digital library technology partnering with publisher Sourcebooks, also hopes to track the program's effectiveness in promoting author and title recognition, according to library industry articles announcing the campaign.
Malone's book will be available for download onto amazon.com Kindles, Apple iPads and Barnes & Noble Nooks through the county library's website. Instructions start on its "Reader's Cafe" menu.
"Part of OverDrive's intention here is to alert publishers to the great demand of ebooks from libraries," said Greg Near, public relations coordinator at Salt Lake County Library Services. "It's become increasingly popular as more people buy e-readers of all sorts."
Several big publishing companies have resisted the library trend, largely out of fear that access to free library titles will eat into revenues. Near said Penguin, Simon & Schuster and other publishers provide no downloadable titles to libraries.
"It's going to take time for publishers and patrons to work this all out, but it will eventually all be worked out," Near said. "It's been such a fast-growing curve for the publishing industry that they're trying to catch up. They're trying to find a book-lending model for libraries that works for all of them."
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson launched a similar book-club effort in 2004, with a program called Salt Lake City Reads Together. The results then were mixed, mostly due to controversy over the use of profanity in one of the titles, Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The Big Library Read
P When • Wednesday to June 1
Where • Salt Lake County Library Services, 8030 S. 1825 West, West Jordan
Info • Free. Visit slco.lib.overdrive.com or phone 801-943-4636 for more information.