Taiwan airport opens e-library for transit passengers

Readers can consult Chinese and English-language titles for free on iPads or devices with e-ink screens in the e-library

Taiwan's international airport has opened what it calls the world's first in-transit e-library, offering 400 e-book titles to ease waiting-hall boredom while showcasing the island's high-tech capabilities.

The e-library at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport allows passengers to consult the Chinese and English-language books, and around 2,000 books on paper, in a special waiting area in the larger of the airport's two terminals. The terminal commonly handles stopovers between North America and Southeast Asia.

The e-books are stored on around 30 devices, a mix of iPads and e-readers with e-ink screens. The e-books are stored in the ePub and Zinio formats. The airport is loaning out the devices on a first come first served basis. Passengers can't download the books to their own e-reader, limiting the usefulness of the service.

The duty-free shop manages the library, which was proposed by Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou. The shop worked with Taiwan's government-funded Institute for Information Industry and the project cost more than NT$3 million (US$102,000)

The shop couldn't say how many people have borrowed e-books since the library opened this week. The airport handles up to 17 million passengers a year. Availability of e-books worldwide is growing, with dramatic sales growth expected this year.

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