Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The E-Book Story, Part 2: How else can I read e-books?

So now you know we have a bunch of e-books and where to find many of them.  You might wonder, though, whether you must be in front of a computer to read them.  Well, the answer to that is yes - by their nature, e-books may only be viewed digitally.  However, there are a lot of mobile devices around today that can serve the role formerly occupied by desktop computers alone.

Any device (smartphone, laptop, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, tablet device, Kindle Fire, etc.) that can browse the Web will let you access and view the e-books we discussed in the last post (as long as you have WiFi available or a 3G or 4G connection).  You just go to the library catalog or the collection in question (or to our library website) and navigate to the book (you'll need to login with your UniqueID and password when off-campus).

But what other ways are available to use these e-books apart from WiFi and more costly connection charges?  Well, one option is to download an e-book to your device.  The problem is, many of our e-books cannot be downloaded (due to the wishes of the publisher in the license agreements).  But one collection is available for download:  EBSCOhost E-books  There are a few requirement for downloading the books:

  • You have to set up a free EBSCOhost account within the e-book database (you'll be prompted to do so when you choose to download a book
  • You have to download Adobe Digital Editions in order to view the titles or download them to your mobile device.  
  • Books are available for a three-day checkout, and you can only have 10 books checked out at one time.
Additional questions about downloading may be answered in the user guide or the FAQ, or by contacting the library.

Another option is to use an e-book reader.  Two things are true:  (1) there are many different e-book readers out there, and (2) we do not yet have a way to have people download e-books from a library collection to their personal e-book readers (other than through the EBSCOhost E-books collection).

However, we have purchased four Amazon Kindles that you can check out from the library for seven days at a time.  We also have five iPads that can read Kindle books through the Kindle app.  More information on these devices is available, along with a list of the Kindle books that we have purchased so far.  We hope you will use them to experience e-book readers and also to enjoy some great books.

Just to note, that group of Kindle books has been built by library patrons who took us up on our offer to purchase a Kindle book when using the Kindle (as well as by library staff testing the devices).  We want you to be able to do the same - Kindle books tend to be quite inexpensive, and they also have many public domain titles available at no charge.  We also envision using the Kindles to retrieve books that are unavailable in OhioLINK libraries (we've had a few opportunities to do that already).  It can really bolster the speed of our interlibrary loan operation.

Kindles do offer some limited abilities to lend titles to other Kindle owners, and the library has also become an Amazon Prime member, which allows us to borrow a single Kindle book each month for no charge.  But this is no way to run a library - you need to have a sizable number of items that you can easily share with people.  We're trying the Kindle experience out, though, and, in my humble opinion, it is a nice reading experience.

So we do have some ways to make e-books a bit more portable.  But what's ahead with e-books?  What plans does the library have for them in the near term?

Be sure to read our next and final entry in the series for some answers.

The image above was provided under a Creative Commons Attribution License by Pen Waggener.

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