The way people read dramatically changed almost eight years ago when Amazon first released its e-reader, the Kindle. The touch-screen device was immensely popular and revolutionized how users read. Readers began adopting e-books because of the convenience offered, such as storing books, magazines and newspapers in the cloud. The popularity of digital books eventually transitioned to smartphones.
With the advent of digital reading, many proclaimed paper-based reading materials were coming to an end. No doubt, some areas have been slow to adopt, such as the physical newspaper area after numerous papers stopped circulation. But it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to paper materials, and specifically, books.
In fact, according to Publisher Weekly, Nielsen BookScan reported that print book sales rose 2.4 percent in 2014, with total units near 635 million. Many of these books were purchased through retailers, and as a result, the second-hand market may not all be accounted for.
How exactly does the cloud connect with print books? Well, print books are not dying, contrary to popular belief. The upswing also coincides with a resurgence from libraries across the U.S. Once thought of as historic facilities out of step with the digital revolution, libraries have turned to the cloud and have reaped the benefits of cloud computing.
Arguably, libraries were characterized as places to only visit when a book was needed. But according to the 2015 State of America's Library report by the American Library Association, communities are embracing libraries in numerous ways. These buildings are increasingly offering technology workshops and learning areas for people of all ages. The report said in 2012, public libraries offered 4 million programs attended by 92.6 million people. The latest statistics from the Institute of Museum and Library Services revealed 2.2 billion materials in public libraries during fiscal year 2012. These materials are not just limited to print books; libraries often now loan out digital content and more.
Implementing the cloud
According to Research Information, many libraries are excited about cloud offerings.
"Cloud applications have played an important role for research libraries for quite some time. If you look at how research is done, it is in fact conducted in the cloud; premium content (such as scholarly journals) and the software that provides access to this content, is predominantly cloud-based," Tamir Borensztajn, vice president of discovery strategy at EBSCO Information Services, told the website.
Libraries using the cloud see the same benefits other industries do: increased efficiency, better collaboration and unified workflows. The cloud helps some of the leading universities get access to other materials. For example, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is part of the Interlibrary Loan service. Students and faculty are able to rent materials from partnered libraries across the globe.
"The cloud breaks down institutional walls to give users access to a wider range of research materials," SirsiDynix's Liz Van Halsema told Research Information.
Cloud implementation has helped change theories of conventional libraries, according to the e-Library Science Research Journal. The shifting mindsets are due in part to programs such as book sharing. Yet, the cloud has also changed how libraries operate on the technical, back-end side. The cloud has enabled libraries to become more reliable, cut costs and spend less time on logistical manners and infrastructure. Further, cloud services offer great scalability. More storage for growing data cases or more processing power can be easily modified, according to Softlink.
The cloud has helped libraries maintain its core model of loaning out books, while also evolving to become popular destinations for people of all ages. The next time a patron looks up a book at their local library, chances are high that database is being hosted in the cloud.