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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

Thing 16: Ebooks and Ebook Apps

2 Sep

Once upon a time, you had to physically go to the library to check out a book. The library was able to purchase one copy of the book at the going rate, and lend it out based on established procedures.

Enter ebooks.


Flickr Creative Commons, fishbraintexas.

With the ability to lend and share as many copies as desired at one time, digital books have challenged a lot of the old practices. One major obstacle involves money, as many publishers have not yet found a sustainable and affordable model for selling ebooks to libraries. Another issue involves intellectual property rights, as digital media is easily copied and shared widely, where physical documents were much more limited.

While ebooks are pushing libraries, publishers, and legislators into new directions, some of them are pushing back. One way is through DRM, or Digital Rights Management. DRM technologies basically control how a certain media or piece of hardware can be used, in an attempt to prevent piracy and misuse. Companies like Apple and Amazon are using DRM to control how many times an ebook can be downloaded, and legislators are reinforcing the flaws in DRM by creating anti-circumvention laws that make it illegal for users to create workarounds.

Though there are many challenges for libraries in terms of adopting ebooks, they also offer a solution to the issues of access and preservation. In my own experience as a digital librarian in Kazakhstan, I created ebooks in order to provide better access to important and rare books in the Kazakh language. Similar projects are being carried out at the British Library as well as through large-scale efforts like the Hathitrust Digital Library.

So you’ve probably already read ebooks yourself, and know how they work. So for this Thing, I’ve tried to delve deeper into interesting projects and provide links to organizations working on ebook-related issues. That said, ebooks are hot, and things are always changing. If you know of a great project or organization that I’ve left out, link it in the comments. Otherwise, let’s…



Check out some of the great projects happening around the web to make ebooks freely accessible to the public. One of the most exciting projects is, which works to provide a substantial one-time compensation for the author through crowdfunding so that the work can then become freely available through a Creative Commons license. This offers a creative solution to the copyright problem faced by many digital libraries. Also visit the recently launched DP.LA, a partnership effort that’s been getting a lot of press recently.



Get educated on alternative publishing methods for ebooks, and support sustainable projects. Help unlock an ebook at! And while you’re there, download Lauren Pressley’s already-unglued ebook, So You Want to be a Librarian.

Learn more about open access, find open access ebooks, and discover how your library collection can be enhanced with freely accessible materials. University publishers are especially fruitful for OA book collections – a couple of personal favorites are Open Humanities Press and Digitalculturebooks, both imprints of the University of Michigan Press.

Learn more about DRM and get involved. Play around with formats using programs like Calibre, run OCR to add searchability to your document using Adobe Pro or a freely available software like Tesseract, and download to various devices. Check out different ebook apps, like the sleek Readmill or Stanza for iPad and iPhone, or Aldiko for Android.

Get active in your library. Share ereader and ebook app reviews with your patrons, be knowledgeable about formats and devices (check out this helpful infographic to simply the process), give ebooks physical presence in your collection by creating dummy bookmarks. Participate in projects like Distributed Proofreaders, which is the main source of public domain books available through Project Gutenberg.

Finally, stay up to date on digital library news.

Whew, so that brings us to…


Thinking Points

Economics – How can we work with publishers in order to make ebooks more effective in libraries?

Marketing – How can we make ebooks easily accessible? How can we standardize ebook access through different publishers and websites?

Bridging the Digital Divide – Will ebooks ever replace physical books for ALL patrons? How do we work with different groups of patrons to meet their needs?

Copyright – How can we work with legislators to fix copyright in order to support innovation and creation in digital content?


This post is by Heidi Dowding, find her online as the Global Librarian.

#anz23mthings Twitter Chat 4: Round up & Archive

31 Aug

Thank you, thank you to everyone who joined our chat on Wednesday! As always, it was cool to have so many ideas and voices. Our topic was Ebooks & Curation, and you can read the questions here. I love how these chats fly thick’n’fast; we meander around topics and bounce ideas, which sprout new thoughts.

MOOCs were mentioned early and there’s a lot of love for them. Likewise, Pinterest has many fans (surprise, surprise!). We discussed what makes a curator, a curator. Then we brainstormed our issues with vendors, ebooks, tablets and ereaders. We surmised what we already knew: information professionals are needed more than ever to guide customers. Yes the Internet rocks; but users need a dance teacher!


Click here to see a storify version of the archived chat – with pretty pictures!

We’d love to hear what you thought of the chat, so please leave us a comment 🙂

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