So you got a new e-reader for Christmas. Now, with a service available in Sonoma County for the first time, you can check out e-books from the library.

Several self-professed technology "dinosaurs" got primers recently on how to check out an electronic book from the library, one of five such classes library staff is offering countywide to help book lovers move into the 21st century with their reading habits.

The Overdrive e-book service actually has been available since September, said Rebecca Forth Kelch, who helped research which digital book service the library contracted with.

But as e-readers, such as Nooks, Kindles, iPads, tablets and even smartphones, become more prevalent, more content is being customized for them. And more readers are looking for them in downloadable form.

"We identified a need among users, which is needing help using e-books at the library," Forth Kelch said. "It is kind of a maze of different devices, different formats, different specifications, different processes. Our goal with this is to make the whole process easier."

Judging from the turnout at the first class offering, the desire to learn is strong.

More than three dozen readers attended the drop-in session Saturday at the library in downtown Santa Rosa. Most were senior citizens, but 9-year-old Ethan Scott of Santa Rosa was busy navigating the Overdrive site trying to find one of his favorite series: "Captain Underpants" books.

"My oldest brought an iPad over from England in November," said Ethan's mom, Maggie Scott. "This one loved it. They're a lot more technologically savvy than we give them credit for."

Deborah May-Buffum of Petaluma is at the other end of the spectrum. She doesn't even have an eReader yet.

"I'm a dinosaur," she said. "But I want to understand this world . . . I'm a paper-book person, but this is the future."

She's right about that. Electronic books are the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry, and have been for the past decade.

Libraries at Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College have had digital books available for years, reducing costs and increasing convenience for students.

Sonoma County's library system took its time researching which vendor would serve its readers best, Forth Kelch said, taking into account ease of use, offerings and costs.

Overdrive, which the library already used for audiobooks, was selected. It also is the only library vendor that provides Kindle eBooks, the largest segment of the digital book market.

Costs for the program were unavailable, as were numbers of books available through the county library system.

For now, the numbers are small, Forth Kelch said. One of the main costs is a licensing fee for each copy of a digital book bought -- just like buying a hard copy of each book.

"People tend to think as e-books as something infinitely duplicable," she said. "But the digital rights management prevents that. That is something that all libraries are having to contend with.".

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