Tag Archives: eReaders

An eBook for Every Reader

In addition to the work required to bring great library service on a day-to-day basis, people who work in libraries also get to spend some time advocating for literacy, education, access to media, and all sorts of other interesting national issues.

It’s likely no surprise to most people, then, that our largest professional organization, the American Library Association, is currently working hard to have a say in how eBooks are marketed. This recent 6-page report nicely sums up some of the major concerns about eBooks from a library perspective: Will every title be available for libraries to purchase and lend? Will the library be able to keep a digital copy of the book forever, or will it be for a limited time? Will we be able to include access to the book through our catalog, or will we have to link to a separate page?

This is interesting time to be a reader, particularly if you’re a technology enthusiast who has embraced reading books on an eReader, tablet, or smartphone. On one hand, any of these web-connected devices offers unprecedented instantaneous access to a huge number of books.

On the other hand, the devices lend themselves to direct purchasing of titles rather than borrowing from a library or friend to try them out. Out of concern for preserving their profitability (a reasonable concern for any business!), all of the major publishers have put some sort of limit on library access to books. Andrew Albanese of Publisher’s Weekly sums it up nicely in a blog post last week:

“On the publisher side, two of the “Big Six” publishers, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, do not allow libraries to lend their e-books at all; HarperCollins capped lends at 26 in 2011, and Hachette removed its frontlist titles from library catalogs. Random House, which does make its entire catalog available for e-book lending, recently tripled e-book prices. And Penguin suspended its library e-book lending late last year, although at this year’s ALA is announced it is now participating in a limited “e-book pilot” with the New York Public Library to determine whether and how it might resume offering e-books.”

It’s important to remember that the relationship between libraries and publishers in not adversarial; libraries obviously rely on publishers to provide us with new material to stock our shelves (and e-shelves), and publishers have long benefited from libraries’ promotion of reading and literacy to help them develop relationships with readers who are, after all, their customers.

While all of this is being sorted out, all of us readers could do well to step back and take a look at the lush reading environment that has developed alongside eReaders.  For one thing, despite the limitations mentioned above, the Library’s E Book selection has surpassed 30,000 titles and is growing quickly.  Many popular current titles are available for loan through the OverDrive service.

And the Library is not the only game in town when it comes to free eBooks.  Public Domain books, those for which copyright protection has expired, are available for free, legal download from online collections such as the Internet Archive, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg.  A lot of these scans are from library collections, so you may even get the experience of seeing a stamp or barcode appear on your iPad screen.

If you haven’t thought about trying out some old (time-tested!) titles available via public domain, here are some starting points, presented in “read-alike” format, that you can load on your phone, Nook, Kindle, iPad, or just about any other electronic reading device.

For fans of Sandra Brown, Mary Higgins Clark, and Michael Connelly — it may be an obvious choice, but did you know that you can read Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes stories for free?  Try this collection of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” to see how the original quirky detective puts the clues together.

If you like sci-fi disaster stories like World War Z or Robin Cook’s Invasion, you may be surprised to find that H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds still packs a visceral punch.

Oz continues to thrive — in addition to the classic movie, authors and artists continue to adapt it, proving that the mysterious alternative universe is still a great platform for creativity.  Find Baum’s original here.

If you love thrillers like those by Dan Brown and James Patterson, Wilkie Collins’ the Woman in White will surely keep you on the edge of your seat.

If you like the self-improvement strategies put forth by the likes of Tony Robbins and Rhonda Byrne, you may get a kick out of Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf (aka the Harvard Classics), which promise to provide you with all of the materials you need to be an educated person.

And finally, if you liked Keith Richards’ memoir in all its sordid glory, I think you’ll have to check out the original tell-all drug memoir, Thomas de Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.  Even old Keef might not have been able to keep up with Quincy, not in writing nor self-abuse.

Do you read eBooks?  Keep current with industry trends?  Have any public domain favorites to share?

-Dan, an eBook advocate who still prefers print.


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Sony Reader Wi-Fi Delivers Features, Library Content

After nearly 12 months of rigorous use, my Kobo eReader’s e-ink display failed.  Kobo’s customer care has been very responsive and I have sent the device back for replacement.  In the meantime, I’ve learned a little more about the Kindle Fire tablet in using it as a replacement of sorts for the Kobo.  First and foremost, as an eReader, the Fire makes an excellent tablet alternative to the more expensive iPad. In other words, I ultimately found the back-lit, computer screen display of the Fire does not lend itself to lengthy eReading sessions.  My eyes quickly became irritated by the glare from the screen.

The Fire has become an excellent entertainment delivery system, streaming Netflix, old radio dramas, providing access to a host of excellent apps, and in a pinch acting as second computer.  Still, I needed something to fulfill my eReader needs.  Would a dedicated Kindle be the answer? In talking with a colleague about the various options, he reminded me that Sony offers a product that features wireless content delivery that circumvents the complexity of Adobe Digital Editions.  It’s the Reader Wi-Fi, and when I went to Sony’s site to check it out it was on sale for $99.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for a sale, so I bought it.

Two things sold me on the Reader Wi-Fi: direct downloads and active support for libraries.  From a user’s perspective, downloading library content from Overdrive on this device could not be easier.  Once you establish an account within the Sony store feature on the reader, you simply go to the Library button on the second page of the device’s default menu and tap it.  You’ll get the option to find CLP’s Overdrive site.  Once you’re logged in with your library card number, you can search for content and access your Overdrive account in a simplified version of the package available on our web site.  You can either search and check out the items from your PC or tablet device, then move over to the Reader Wi-Fi for quick and easy downloading, or do everything on the Reader’s interface.  It also includes a plastic stylus for easy data entry, and once you enter your card number it will remember it for each visit.

The folks at Sony thought enough of public libraries to build specific features for them right into the Reader Wi-Fi.  That’s the second reason I made this move.  There’s even a menu option that allows you to easily tag materials en masse  and return them early. When reading a book the navigation features include the ability to swipe to the next page (or a previous one) with the tip of a finger, or you could use the handy buttons below the screen.  Font sizes can be adjusted with the simple touch of a button as well.

Now lest you think I am completely smitten to the point of blindness, the Sony is not perfect!  Browsing online with it can be dicey, as the wireless does not provide lightning fast response time.  Also, the touch screen offers some tablet-like functionality, but “pinching” to expand the content on the 6″ display can result in unintentionally traversing links as the thumb and finger brush by them.  These issues aside, an eReader that recognizes the value of easy access to public library content merits consideration when navigating through the growing sea of devices now on the market.

If you think you might like to meet the Reader Wi-Fi in person, or any of the other popular eReaders on the market today, visit one of our upcoming Gadget Labs where we offer individualized instruction and hands-on experiences with these devices.

Now if only my hold on Song of Ice and Fire Series, Book 4, A Feast For Crows would come in, I’d be golden!



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Got a New eReader? Don’t Forget What Your Library Can Offer!

There was a major surge in the sale of eReaders this past holiday season, resulting in a significant increase of eBook downloads at public libraries. Indeed, according to Digital Library Blog — the official blog of the company, Overdrive, which supplies Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s downloadable eBooks — right around Christmas, library eBook downloads increased 93% compared to just a month earlier.

If you received an eReader during the holidays — or are interested in purchasing one — and want to know more about using it with the Library’s free resources, you should stop by one (or all) of our upcoming training sessions created by the Film and Audio Department in collaboration with the PC Center:

Gadget Lab: Wednesday, January 26th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm and Saturday, February 12th from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm — Bring your new gadget to our gadget lab and we’ll show you how to use it with the Library’s downloadable services. Don’t have a gadget of your own? Come to the lab and try out one of ours!  This event will be located in the Quiet Reading Room, and no registration is required.

Library Resources for Mobile Devices: Thursday, January 13th from 5:30-7:30 pm, and Saturday, January 22nd from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm — If you’d like to learn more about how to use the Library’s downloadable services, as well as receive a hands-on introduction to the major devices that work with these services, such as the Nook eReader or iPod Touch, then this class is for you. Both classes will be taught in the PC Center.  Registration is required, and can be completed by calling 412-622-3114.

If you can’t make it to one of these training sessions, it’s likely there will be more in the near future. In the meantime, you can always stop by the Library to ask your favorite librarian for help with your new device.


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