Lockdown forces surge in e-book borrowing from UK's public libraries

Annual library lending figures reveal UK's most borrowed e-books.
There was an estimated 358 percent increase in the number of people borrowing e-books during the first three weeks of lockdown in England. Representative image: IANS
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New Delhi: 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman has been revealed as the UKs most borrowed e-book of 2018-19, with Sally Rooneys 'Normal People', 'Circe' by Madeleine Miller and Adam Kays 'This is Going to Hurt' among the Top 10, according to the latest figures on public library borrowing released by Public Lending Right (PLR).

The Top 10 most borrowed e-books also include 'Origin' by Dan Brown, 'Still Me' by Jojo Moyes, and 'Into the Water' by Paula Hawkins.

For the first time, the PLR annual public library loans data - released on Wednesday for the period covering July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019 includes figures on e-book borrowing as well as print books, audiobooks and regional borrowing.

The release coincides with a remarkable surge in e-book borrowing from public libraries as physical spaces remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Libraries Connected had estimated a 358 percent increase in the number of people borrowing e-books during the first three weeks of lockdown in England.

Continuing the trend of previous years, the list of most borrowed print titles is dominated by thrillers, with James Patterson taking the title of most borrowed author for the thirteenth year running, a statement from British Library said.

Children's literature continues to feature heavily across UK print borrowing, with Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson, Daisy Meadows, Francesca Simon and David Walliams appearing among the top ten most borrowed authors. This reflects the crucial and enduring role libraries play in supporting children's literacy and sparking a lifelong love of reading.

"It is brilliant that, thanks to digital services, so many people can still engage with their local library and enjoy the nation's most popular titles. E-books are a fantastic way to entertain and educate, especially as we spend more time at home," UK Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said in a statement.

Administered from the British Library, the Public Lending Right scheme gives authors and other contributors the legal right to payment from the Government each time their books are borrowed from a UK public library.

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