Pandemic prompts Quebec’s bookworms to turn to e-books

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a big jump in the number of Quebecers borrowing e-books from their local libraries.

From March until June, e-book loans jumped 117 per cent, according to a survey done by the provincial association of public libraries, and the number of new users of the platform went up by 175 per cent.

Children’s e-books are even more popular — the number of loans has jumped 482 per cent, and audiobook loans have increased by more than 550 per cent.

Libraries across the province were forced to close in mid-March during the spring lockdown, and were allowed to reopen as of May 29.

L’association des bibliothèques publiques du Québec comprises 318 public libraries across the province, serving 84 per cent of Quebecers. Its president, Denis Chouinard, says while printed books still make up the majority of libraries’ collections, e-books are gaining ground.

He said many people use both formats — e-books for when they’re travelling and physical books at home, for example.

But Chouinard also said he wouldn’t be surprised if, even after things return to normal, e-books remained popular.

Since the beginning of the month, libraries in Quebec’s red zones have been closed for events but users can still reserve and borrow physical books.

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