Give Away some Ebooks

A couple weeks ago, I saw a pretty cool idea at the Denver International Airport, and thought it could be adapted to libraries.

1st Bank had some large advertisements up in the airport, giving away free ebooks (see the pic in this post – this was one of two signs I saw). All you needed was a smartphone with a QR Code reader – aim and read the code, and you were directed to download a free ebook (there was also a button to open a new banking account).

Pretty ingenious, if you ask me. Just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure the only books I saw were “free” out-of-print classics. For most people – people who are stuck at the airport with nothing much to do – what a cool idea! Give em a book (even if it’s freely available online), and brand it as your business.

How can this work for a library?

Why not copy this idea? Use a QR Code, put up a sign at the mall or the grocery store, and offer a “free” ebook (maybe something legally free from Project Gutenberg). Send the user to a mobile webpage, branded as your library – with a link to the ebook, and some info about your other cool services.

In essence, it looks like the library is giving away a free ebook – that works with multiple ereaders! Even those pesky Amazon Kindles that don’t play well with libraries.

  • GinaP

    Apparently I fly through Denver all too often. The books change from time to time. And, sometimes, the QR code gets you puzzles. Nice idea for libraries to pursue.

  • Chris

    I definitely like this use of QRs and believe that libraries can only benefit if we take efforts to appear on top of the latest tech developments. The only part I wonder about here is the webpage “branded as your library”. I’m probably being overly cautious (not normally my MO) but this feels a little misleading.

  • Rizaayu

    great idea!! luv to implement it but…..

  • Brian Herzog

    I do like this idea, and implementing QR codes in general, because they have so much potential. But I do have a general QR code/smartphone question: is there any danger in scanning any random QR code you might see somewhere? It seems akin to blinding clicking on an email attachment – could the QR code link to a nefarious website that could install malware on your phone? I don’t have a smartphone, so I don’t know how protected they are.

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  • Holly

    Dumb question: how does one get a QR code?

  • Brian Herzog

    @Holly: the easiest way is to use one of the free online QR code generators: – a couple I’ve played with that seem to give a lot of options are and

  • davidleeking

    Great answer, Brian – thanks!

  • Melissa Brisbin

    This is a fantastic idea and I am rolling with it. My director is really embracing this idea.

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  • George

    Ya hh, This is great idea for e libraries and some organizations started there e libraries. QR codes can be generated by and one can use these.

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