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Crack an E-Book Soon at the Westport Library

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport Library Director Maxine Bleiweis has plenty of time to get comfortable with her new iPad before an electronic book service is introduced at the library this fall.

The Westport Public Library is one of 10 in the country, and the only one in the tri-state area, selected to pilot Freading, an e-book checkout service created by Library Ideas LLC that will allow library card holders to download e-books for free. More than 20,000 titles from 16 publishers will be available when the service launches.

"Unlike other [library e-book models], multiple people will be able to simultaneously download the same book" with Freading, Bleiweis said. "Another thing that's quite extraordinary is that whatever the publishers have available in downloaded content will be available to users. We're not picking and choosing the titles."

With Freading, users will be able to download the e-books directly to their computers, iPads or e-book readers such as the Nook. The only device Freading is not compatible with is the Kindle, Bleiweis said.

As with regular books, the e-books can be checked out for up to two weeks. If a user needs more time, Bleiweis said they can renew the book for two more weeks.

Although the service will be free, Bleiweis said users will be able to download a certain number of books per week. This number, she said, will likely be based on a token system in which books "cost" a certain number of tokens to download.

Bleiweis said she expects Freading to be rolled out in September. "An important role we play as a library is introducing people to new technology," she said. "This may be the tipping point for some people who are considering e-book readers."

Cheryl Devlin of Weston is one of those people. A regular user of the Westport Public Library, Devlin said she has yet to join the "e-reader bandwagon." However, she said she may after hearing about Freading.

"The idea that you can check out any book you want, at anytime, sounds nice," Devlin said. "It doesn't happen to me often, but there's nothing more frustrating than going to check out a book and finding out someone else already has it out."

Do you have an e-book reader? Is it more convenient to download an e-book than to go to the library to check-out a book? Share your comments below!

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