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Summer Reading For This Woodbury Resident: eBook Style

I’ve been utilizing the new eBook format at Washington County libraries. Here’s what I found out.

I’m an insatiable reader who’s been reading just for you! As summer reading suggestions pile up and e-readers fly off of store shelves, it’s time to try out Washington County Library’s new e-book offerings.

I’ve been testing the service, and here’s what I’ve found so far.

I have an iPad and a Kindle and have read purchased books on both. I have not yet used a Nook from . But I’ve encouraged my mother to buy a Nook as her first e-reader—because Barnes and Noble offers in-store booksellers to help reluctant technology adopters, like my mom, get started.

Another advantage of a Nook is that it supports the EPUB format used by Washington County Library. I’m disappointed that I can’t borrow library eBooks on my Kindle.

A librarian assured me that borrowing eBooks via Kindle is coming. I hope she’s right. Until then, I’m checking out library eBooks on my iPad.

First, I downloaded the free eBook software application called OverDrive to my iPad. This only took a few minutes. Then I created an Adobe account password. So far I’ve only needed my library card number and PIN to check out library eBooks.

Once I followed all of the installation instructions—which was a bit tedious but fairly straightforward—I was able to start downloading borrowed eBooks.

Browsing for books online is not as pleasurable as perusing actual library stacks. But it is simple to search fiction and non-fiction categories as well as listed collections like “most popular” or "new releases.”

I noted more than 500 eBook fiction titles. But like print books, there are limited digital copies of each eBook and most of the current titles are already checked out. So I clicked “Request First Available” for each eBook I’m interested in. An email will be sent when my requested eBook is available for download.

There seemed to be at least one eBook available by each of the popular genre fiction writers like David Baldacci or Nora Roberts. Availability seemed more limited for literary fiction.

But when you browse what’s available, you’re sure to find something. I found The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. I clicked “Add to Book Bag.”

You can have up to five titles in your “book bag” at a time and check out up to three eBooks at a time. After two weeks they’re deleted from your device. (The library webpage has additional eBook borrowing help and information.)

I also chose two children’s titles to test because picture books seem well-suited for the iPad’s color screen. It is pretty slick. I can envision youngsters flipping through their favorite Dr. Seuss books on mom’s iPhone, funny as that may sound to some of you.

Ultimately, I’m not a fan of reading books on the iPad. I prefer my Kindle. The iPad is much heavier and its backlit screen washes out from glare when I’m outside.

I love the concept and ease of borrowing library eBooks. But until they’re available for Kindle, I’m not as excited about this new service as readers who use Nook, iPad or some other supported device.

thedogear June 22, 2011 at 10:53 PM
I live in a dual Nook (Nook1st Edition and Nook Color) household and download e-content from my region's public library network on a weekly basis. I chose B& N Nook for the OverDrive loan feature. The Buffalo & Erie County Library system permits 7 or 14 day loan periods and you can borrow up to 20 titles at one time. I imagine there are some patrons who borrow the maximum. I think the generous borrowing capacity affects the availability of popular titles. As a result, I am often on a waiting list for newer or more popular titles. Our library system offers a copious collection of YA titles. However, I've noticed many of the popular YA titles, particularly those written by African-American authors are available only as an audiobook.

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