Goodbye, Overdue Fees

To find a company that could deliver electronic versions of best-selling titles 24 hours a day, Cleveland Public Library collection manager Cynthia Orr headed to a conference in Atlanta. It turns out, she never had to leave Cleveland.

During that trip, she met fellow Clevelander Steve Potash, the CEO of Cleveland-based OverDrive Inc., one of the leading global providers of eBook systems.

Six months later, a digital library of 2,800 titles made its debut on the Cleveland Public Library Web site (

Since the program was introduced last year, the number of eBooks "checked out" has grown to as many as 800 titles a month. Visitors can download titles in both Adobe and Palm formats for offline reading. All you need is a library card and In�ernet access to check out a title for three weeks. Once those three weeks are up, the book is checked back into the library catalog and disappears from your PC.

While some purists frown upon the idea of screens replacing paper, Orr points out ghat the younger generation is already comfortable with it. Potash, a father of three children, agrees.

"The next generation will come into the marketplace used to onscreen reading," he says. "The day will come when kids can shed their heavy backpacks. I?m very excited to be a part of this."

-- Marina Takahashi

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