Weekly Wrap-Up, Thing 16: ebooks and ebook apps.

8 Sep

Week 16 was kicked off by Heidi Dowding who is the National Digital Stewardship Resident at Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks.  She summarised the current ebooks-in-libraries situation and urged us to explore a number of resources, free-to-download ebooks and eReading apps.  My personal favourite of Heidi’s links was the article about dummy bookmarks – a simple and effective tool for making the invisible ebook visible.  It was then a very quiet week in 23 Mobile Things world – an article shared and another source of free ebooks provided.

I read ebooks.  The library I work at is a Wheeler’s library and we have over 1100 titles available to borrow – shared between Horowhenua Library Trust and 3 other libraries.  I have a Sony Reader ebook reader that I use to read my DRM-protected library ebooks.  Also on that ebook reader are dozens of ebooks that I have purchased over the last couple of years, mostly computer manuals from Sitepoint (they come in epub, .pdf and .mobi and I download all 3 versions because I can).  I also own many of these titles in print and the print versions are consulted more frequently.

My manager reads more novels in a week than I read in a month and raves about her Kindle.  I love shiny things and, as my role as teacher of ebooks to customers, decided I’d better invest in a Kindle to find out what the fuss was all about.  I bought a refurbished Kindle with 3G from a daily deal website and copied my Sitepoint .mobi books onto it.  I then discovered a fantastic website called Kindle Buffet (free books, all you can eat) and have spent many evenings reading the latest blog post that tells me which books from the Kindle Store are currently free to download.  I was soon to understand why my manager (who also owns a Sony eReader) loves her Kindle.  It really is a great ereader and so easy to use.  I adore mine and if I purchase an ebook I’m far more likely to buy the Kindle version than an ePub.

I have an Android tablet and smartphone and will soon be purchasing my first iPad but I’ve never read ebooks on a phone or tablet.  The phone is large (Samsung Galaxy S3) but too small for reading a novel on and the tablet is too heavy and the battery life isn’t great.  Plus, if I want to read an ebook, I’ll read it on an ereader – my tablet/phone is for communicating, for games and for running the various apps I’ve installed on them, not for reading anything longer than a news article.

In my job I help customers with their ereaders on a regular basis.  I’m always happiest when they have a Sony – it’s the device I find easiest to use.  My most recent ebook customer arrived to see me with a Surface RT tablet – a beautiful device but a nightmare when it came to reading ebooks.  Generally I recommend Bluefire Reader for reading ebooks but that app is only available for Android and iOs.  My customer had installed the Overdrive app but was unable to get it working.  We’re not an Overdrive customer so I thought I’d look in the Windows Store for another epub ereader.  Easier said than done.  I couldn’t get the Kobo app to open ebooks so ended up going back to Overdrive.  Once it was authorised with the customer’s Adobe ID we hit the jackpot and our borrowed ebooks popped up on the screen.  Three weeks later her books had expired but the covers were still sitting in her library.  It took quite a bit of pressing and swiping to discover that there is actually a way to delete them…but it doesn’t check them in so you have to wait until the due date.  If anyone has had a better experience with ebooks on a Windows 8 tablet, I’d love to hear what app you used.

I was at a workshop last week with some of the cleverest NZ librarians working with technology.  We discussed ebooks a couple of times throughout the day and the verdict was – ebook borrowing is TOO hard.  I can understand the need for DRM to protect the rights of those who have written/published a book but when you compare the ebook borrowing and downloading procedure with Amazon’s 1-Click® you can’t help but wonder if there could be a more Kindle-like application for ebook lending.

Happy ereading everyone,

JD (Joanne Dillon) at Te Takere

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