January 17, 2011 at 4:31 am (Uncategorized)

eReaders: Through the Eyes of a Public LibrarianTuesday, Dec 14 2010

eReaders , melissabrisbin 11:11 pmEdit This

I dream a lot.  Most people will tell you that they wish they had the long, episodic dreams that I have that are always filled with adventurous, strange, scary, beautiful images, because they are, in fact, dreams. The other night I dreamt of a tidal wave.  Its large, threatening wall of water was heading my way as I tried to move as fast as I could to escape its inevitable crash.  Although this was just a dream, it somehow led my thoughts to eReaders this afternoon and how their forceful presence is cropping up in so many various aspects of my life this time of year, in particular, everyone I know, as well as strangers,  asking what to buy and how they work.  From my perspective, the tidal wave of my dreams seems to also be made from eReaders.

This is, of course, is do to my work.  I’m a librarian.  I order all our downloadable audiobooks, and now eBooks, for the Southern New Jersey region. This a  great aspect of some of the many things I do at work, but lately its consuming almost every daily conversation.  In the end, I don’t mind, but trying to relay all the ins and outs of eReaders is overwhelming, for me and patrons.  By the end of my long-winded explanation, I’m in dire need of a glass of water, but I digress.  Here’s the world of eReaders through the eyes of a librarian who works in a public library:

Overdrive, the service that provides my library with downloadable eBooks and audiobooks, has finally bridged the gap between Apple and eBooks.  Hooray!! Finally! As of December 7th, they have released an app for the iPhone and the Android to finally allow patrons to read eBooks on their mobile devices. (Plans for the iPad are in the near future).  You can read about this advancement on the Overdrive blog: http://overdriveblogs.com/library/2010/12/07/overdrive-apps-for-iphone-and-android-now-support-ebooks/.  Although this is great news, I have also discovered that all our old .pdf files will not be included in the new app’s capability for Apple products; it’s only for the new ePub files. Thank goodness this is what we have purchased for our collection.

So with that said, the ePub will work on iPhones, Androids, Sony’s eReaders, Barnes & Noble’s Nooks, etc., etc., etc.  Yet with all the flexibility of the ePub format, different devices do not always make the process of downloading a digital format as easy as they portray.  For instance, if I want to use an iPad to get an audiobook I have to watch what I’m doing.  If I’m using wireless, I can only download MP3 formats.  If I want a title that is in a WMA format, I first have to download Overdrive’s Media Console; however, if it’s your first time downloading the Media Console, you usually have to automatically update it.  Why?  I don’t know, but you do.  This sometimes works by updating the program through the “update” button, but more often than not, you will have to go to a separate website.  Once that is done, I can plug-in my Apple device.  Wait!  It still won’t transfer.  I then have to right-click my device and check off the box to manually enable it to accept transfered materials.  Once this is completed, I can finally get my audiobook and breathe!  With using my iPad for eBooks, I can only load ePub formats.  The pdfs of the past will not work.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is not strictly an Apple or an Overdrive issue.  My Sony eReader also took many steps to set up, between obtaining an Adobe Digital ID, downloading Adobe Digital Editions, registering my eReader to my computer, and then, finally obtaining an eBook.  Once I got through all the steps, the process works relatively flawlessly.  For some reason, every once in a while, my eBook will not load into Adobe Digital Editions, but go right into my Sony eReader.  I can’t say I mind either.  Once less click for me and I still have my eBook.

Next week, I will hopefully have the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.  The reviews have been great, but then again, there is always seems to be something: an update, verification, format incompatibility, and the list goes on.  I will say that I love being able to answer patron questions about eReaders, even though, it most often pertains to Amazon’s Kindle and how you need to acquire eBooks through Amazon alone.  Their device will not work with the library.  I hate disappointing patrons, but when it comes to the Kindle, it’s unavoidable.

All and all, the eReader is a fast-growing and expanding part of the book market and its presence does not appear to be dwindling. In fact, libraries and librarians need to make it a point to understand how eReaders work, as well as offering their patrons a format that is accessible through the web, whether or not a patron is using a laptop or a mobile device, or if they are connecting at home through broadband or wirelessly. (As part of my dedication to patrons with eReaders, I am planning to teach a class about how to use them).  As a public librarian, it is our duty to be familiar with eReaders, despite the fact that there are those of us who love printed books.  I don’t think that love will ever go away, but in order to be an important and valuable asset to the community, we have to go with the flow of technology.  I don’t think that means that printed books are going to stop being a large presence in our collection anytime soon.  Yet, we must recognize that there is another generation and group of patrons that love this format.  Just look at the continuing growth of eReader sales.

So with all that said, the tidal wave of eReaders is coming your way.  Make sure that you are familiar with whats out there and how it works.  A knowledgable librarian is the best kind a public, or any type of library, can possibly have at their community’s disposal.  Questions about eReaders are coming your way, whether you like them or not.

Melissa the Librarian-Cape May County Library


1 Comment

  1. Mr WordPress said,

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