eReaders. How We Love to Hate Them.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the staff at our library use electronic devices to access eBooks and audiobooks from the OverDrive site, and we’ll rave about it to anyone who will listen. But do we love dedicated eReaders? Not really. And as it turns out, only a small portion of people who use them actually like them.

ereaderWhen eReaders first came on the scene, it was predominantly an Amazon market. The Kindle was the only eReader for many people, and because they were expensive, and only allowed people to read books that they purchased, only a select few were instantly in love.

Then came an explosion of eReaders put out by a variety of companies. These allowed you to access books from other places besides Amazon, and *cue the trumpets*, you could now also download FREE eBooks from your library! WOW!  We were overwhelmed by people purchasing eReaders for themselves and their families (mostly for elderly parents who might not be able to get to the library as easily as others), and it was decidedly frustrating for us in the library. The eReaders were not simple to use, not if you wanted to download free books from the OverDrive website. Everyone had different devices, different computers and different problems. We could spend hours with a patron trying to get them set up, only to face the probability that they’d be back in a few weeks, still not sure how to do the entire process on their own. It was especially difficult that first year as many people bought eReaders for their parents at Christmas, and then left them with the instructions to “go to the library to have it set up”. For many of these people, computers were difficult enough to use, and to add a device was more than frustrating. I think we had a lot of disappointed patrons that winter.

Now, after several years, there are more devices on the market, and fewer problems. How is that possible? Apps, my friend……APPS.

People who want to enjoy eBooks and audiobooks are no longer forced to buy a device that only allows them to read books on it. Now, phones, tablets and many of the eReaders themselves have wi-fi and use apps so that users can read books, surf the net, text, check Facebook, take photos for Instagram and tweet….all while they listen to a book or download their next ten books for their vacation. They are multi-purpose devices, and that’s exactly the way eReading needed to go.  They are much easier to use, have a simple set-up for OverDrive, and people can usually download a book and be on their way in minutes, rather than have an extensive session at the library to get them going. We love them….and still loathe them, all at the same time.

Kindles, while still one of the most popular devices on the market, are not compatible with OverDrive in Canada. Well, not most of the Kindles, anyway. (The Kindle Fire is more of a tablet which does use apps, and therefore, allows you to access OverDrive.) This is sad news for people who have done research and found the product that seems to have the most positive reviews will not work for them if they want free eBooks and audiobooks. In the US, library patrons can access OverDrive ebooks through their libraries due to a program used to allow them to be compatible, but so far, it hasn’t crossed the border. Are there bigger issues that aren’t being addressed?  I’m not sure, but I guess we’ll deal with that when the time comes.

Now, though, Kindle has put out a new device that they are saying is BETTER THAN BOOKS.  Better than books????? What? The Kindle Voyage claims to be so good, you’ll forget you’re reading on an electronic device. The “paper” is so realistic, it is easy on your eyes, and in your hands, and will certainly make you a convert. But what’s so special? Have you ever read an enormous book with multiple characters that are difficult to keep track of? The Kindle Voyage has a simple pop up that will display the characters to remind you, let you tap a word to look it up in the dictionary, allow you to flip to footnotes and back easily, and also uses new technology that puts turning the pages right under where your fingers naturally rest when holding the device. No more swiping.

I’m sure it’s wonderful. I’m sure it will revolutionize reading for many people. How could it not? Who wouldn’t want to be able to carry around thousands of books in the palm of your hand? Who wouldn’t want to be able to download the newest best-seller from their favourite author the second it comes out on the market? eBooks and eReaders are truly wonderful for that. And Kindles aren’t the only devices that will do this.

But will the frustrations from not being able to access books from your library, or having to re-charge your device simply to finish that book, or losing your entire collection when you drop your device on a hard floor (or in the bathtub), override the old hardcover? Probably not. We love eBooks and audiobooks and all that they provide to us. We just don’t always love the downsides that come with the devices.

How about you? Let us know…do you prefer eBooks over the real deal? Do you mix it up?

 

It’s Kobo day!

Today is going to be fun!  A class at Caldwell School won eReaders so they’re coming to the library to have a little presentation on eBooks!  Isn’t that great?

I’ve got handouts for them to take home and we’re going to go through the download process step by step so that they can get books for their new eReaders! Kids pick up technology so quickly, I’m sure they’ll all be experts by the time they leave the library!

Ebooks. Yes, ebooks.

Now that we’ve opened all the presents and hit all the pre- and post- Christmas sales, it’s time to settle back into our normal lives.  But what if you got an eBook reader over the holidays??  Are you tired of banging your head against the wall trying to figure it all out? Well, the library comes to the rescue on Wednesday, January 11!  We’re having an eBook reader workshop from 7 – 8 pm, filled with lots of information on downloading books, the OverDrive website and more.

This will be a very general info session so that we can cover all the facts and give a few tips. We’ll be able to answer questions, but we probably won’t have time to work with everyone on an individual basis. (That means you should give it a whirl on your own before you come to the workshop. But write down your questions and hopefully, we can solve the problem!)

This workshop requires registration, so either sign up at the front desk or call us to register at 257-2702. Hurry…spaces are limited!

Why eBooks are making us read the Classics

I must admit, many people are not buying eReaders to read the classics, but for a variety of reasons, that’s what seems to be happening.  And I think it’s great!

While many of the eReading devices come equipped with 100 or even 1000 classic (and free) books already pre-loaded, people are usually much more interested in downloading the latest Janet Evanovich or James Patterson than reading Sherlock Holmes or Anna Karenina. But while loan times are short for library ebooks (approx 2 weeks), some are opting to read the classics while on the waiting list for something else.  And for people using Kindles (which aren’t yet compatible with the library OverDrive system), free classic books are the best option of all. And we’re hearing a lot of positive things!

It’s kind of nice to hear someone say they turned to Peter Pan or Treasure Island one day because it was already pre-loaded on their Kobo, and found that there were some really great stories!  Would we pick up one of these books in hardcover format if our John Grisham wasn’t available to us right away perhaps?  Probably not. But it’s happening more and more and what a great thing!  The classics aren’t stuffy or boring or literary.  They aren’t just for people studying English in school.  My hope is that more people will turn to these free books , maybe on a lazy afternoon and find that, hey, there’s a reason something is considered a classic. Read on!

Ebooks, audiobooks and technology at the library

My sister-in-law works at a library in Northern Alberta and while she was visiting recently, we were talking about our libraries and how things are done in both places.  One common issue we noticed is that while technology at the library is a great step forward…..there has to be a learning curve as well as expectations from the public. Not only is staff expected to know everything about new technologies that are being used withing the library (such as eBooks, audiobooks and Ancestry.ca), but many patrons also seem to expect us to be able to teach them as well, and it isn’t always possible.

When we started with audiobooks and eBooks here at our library, we all received a small virtual training session.  Yes, virtual….meaning we participated in a webinar online.  No hands on training, no devices to try.  We were given the basics and had to go from there. Now, we were lucky enough that some of us had iPods and eBook readers so we could experiment at home.  But not everyone has one, so while the staff was trained, a few have never used these devices before.  You can see how tricky this might be.  It would be like someone learning how to drive by watching a video and then being expected to teach others in an actual car. (Okay, maybe not as lethal, but you get the picture.) So you can see  how tricky this is for us.

Secondly, we’re finding that many people who want to download eBooks and Audiobooks are not well versed on their computers and certainly have no experience using these devices, which makes the experience frustrating for all of us. While we can hopefully help someone figure out how to eventually get the books onto their systems (everyone has different settings and devices), we can’t always spend as much time as they need and we can’t do it repeatedly. That means a little experimentation at home is required. Go to our help pages on this blog when first setting up. Visit the help pages on the OverDrive website to see if you can solve the problem that way.  Or ask someone (grab just about any young person you know…they’ll probably do it in three seconds!) to help you in your own environment. And write it down.  I can’t stress that enough….if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing…..write it down, step by step, when someone shows you.  That’ll make a big difference.

As for Ancestry.ca, not all of us know every in and out of the site (not everyone has done genealogy research).  While most of us can help you figure out how to print off that great photo or census, the site is limited by what it can do.  We might be able to make the photo larger, but not necessarily clearer, and while you’d love to have all the data from the link included, sometimes it will just print the photo and that’s all. It’s not our fault if they change the website on occasion. We didn’t do anything to make them change things, so getting frustrated with the staff won’t help. Again, take your time, learn how to work the computer and write things down so that you can do it again next time. We don’t always have the time to spend with someone if we’re really busy.

We want this to be a fun and useful for all involved because eBooks and Audiobooks  and Ancestry are a wonderful addition to the library. But keep in mind that some of the work has to be done on your end, too. Know a much as you can about your computer and your device before bringing it in (taking it out of the box at the library isn’t going to help either of us). Prepare to get frustrated, but trust us that it gets easier. And while we encourage you to come in with questions, give it a try before you walk in with all your equipment. And please don’t get upset with us if we can’t figure it out in three seconds. Remember….this is new to us, too.