Surge in e-book checkouts, with more borrowing cookbooks and juvenile fiction during circuit breaker: NLB

Surge in e-book checkouts, with more borrowing cookbooks and juvenile fiction during circuit breaker: NLB

NLB books
Some of the top borrowed eBooks during the circuit breaker period. (Photos: NLB)

SINGAPORE: As families were urged to stay home in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, some people have taken to borrowing e-books online, with an increase in the number of cookbooks and juvenile fiction being loaned.

Making the top 10 most-borrowed lists across categories since the start of the "circuit breaker" are cookbooks on hawker dishes, cakes and desserts, home cooking and nyonya treats.

Children's books like Harry Potter and the Dog Man series, a comedic graphic novel by American cartoonist Dav Pilkey, also fill the charts of most loaned eBooks, the National Library Board (NLB) told CNA.

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This trend was in line with publishers offering unlimited checkouts of titles on Singapore's hawker classics and Harry Potter, said NLB's assistant chief executive of public library services Catherine Lau.

The top borrowed e-book across categories since the circuit breaker started is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but it also occupied top spot in the month before that. 

However, it has been borrowed more than 3,200 times since the circuit breaker started, almost four times the figure it yielded in the month before.

With the additions to the digital offerings, more than 800,000 e-books and audiobooks can now be borrowed online via the NLB mobile app, as well as more than 7,000 e-magazines and e-newspapers.

This is less than a fifth of the 5 million physical books across all public libraries in Singapore, but as the libraries were ordered closed as part of COVID-19 containment measures, readers turned online.

NLB top borrowed
eBooks available on NLB's app. (Photos: NLB)

NLB introduced new initiatives for readers during the circuit breaker period, adding more online resources during school holidays and providing unlimited checkouts for all 104 children's titles from Epigram Books.

The board announced on May 1 that it had added more popular children's books including titles like Captain Underpants, while 10 new international magazine titles were added including Billboard, Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, The Economist, The Hollywood Reporter, The New Yorker and Wired.

These e-magazines can be borrowed for up to 21 days and there is no limit to the number of readers who can browse them at any time.

Anyone with a myLibrary ID can borrow up to 16 eBooks via the app for up to 21 days. A SingPass, NRIC or FIN number is required for free membership. 

More than 3,000 e-books and magazines can be read by any number of readers at the same time.

The top five borrowed e-books between Apr 7 and May 3 are:
1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
2. Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas
3. Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
4. Singapore Hawker Classics Unveiled: Decoding 25 Favourite Dishes 
5. Horrid Henry's Joke Book

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The first title was checked out more than 3,200 times, double the 1,605 times that the tome on Lee Kuan Yew was borrowed.

Making up the rest of the top 10 are children's books and a volume on Japanese cake and dessert making.

In specific categories, Harry Potter again topped the list of juvenile fiction borrowed during the circuit breaker period, while the top 10 fiction titles include Crazy Rich Asians at number 6 and The Handmaid's Tale at number 7.

The top borrowed business title was: Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear.

NLB English storytelling
A storytelling session by the National Library Board. (Photo: NLB)

Other than books, NLB has also introduced activities for parents and their children, such as weekly storytelling sessions and craft instructions under their Discovereads programme.

Other free upcoming activities with online instructions include a live-streamed workshop on digital card-making this Mother's Day on May 10 and a project management workshop for adults via Microsoft Teams on May 14. 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE READING DURING THE CIRCUIT BREAKER

Here are the full top 10 most-borrowed e-books between Apr 7 and May 3.

TOP 10 ACROSS CATEGORIES

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Harry Potter Series, Book 1
2. Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas
3. Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think
4. Singapore Hawker Classics Unveiled: Decoding 25 Favourite Dishes
5. Horrid Henry's Joke Book
6. Becoming
7. Tanoshii: Joy of Making Japanese-Style Cakes & Desserts
8. Fetch-22: Dog Man Series, Book 8
9. For Whom the Ball Rolls: Dog Man Series, Book 7
10. Too Many Carrots

TOP 10 NON-FICTION

1. Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas
2. Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
3. Singapore Hawker Classics Unveiled: Decoding 25 Favourite Dishes
4. Becoming
5. Tanoshii: Joy of Making Japanese-Style Cakes & Desserts
6. Home Cooking with Sam and Forest
7. The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Volume 1
8. When Breath Becomes Air
9. Educated: A Memoir
10. Delightful Nyonya Treats

TOP 10 JUVENILE FICTION

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Harry Potter Series, Book 1
2. Fetch-22: Dog Man Series, Book 8
3. For Whom the Ball Rolls: Dog Man Series, Book 7
4. Too Many Carrots
5. Lord of the Fleas: Dog Man Series, Book 5
6. Dog Man Unleashed: Dog Man Series, Book 2
7. Brawl of the Wild: Dog Man Series, Book 6
8. Horrid Henry Robs the Bank
9. Dog Man: Dog Man Series, Book 1
10. A Tale of Two Kitties: Dog Man Series, Book 3

TOP 10 FICTION

1. The Silent Patient
2. Chasing Cassandra: The Ravenels Series, Book 6
3. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel
4. The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story
5. Normal People
6. Crazy Rich Asians: Crazy Rich Asians Series, Book 1
7. The Handmaid's Tale (Graphic Novel): A Novel
8. The Guardians: A Novel
9. Pachinko
10. Blue Moon: Jack Reacher Series, Book 24

TOP 10 BUSINESS TITLES

1. Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
2. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
3. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success
4. Irrational Exuberance: Revised and Expanded
5. The Intelligent Investor, Revised Edition
6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
7. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
8. Principles: Life and Work
9. How to Win Friends and Influence People
10. Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

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Source: CNA/ll

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