E-Readers & Small Libraries: Can We Keep Up?

  by:  Jennifer Fording
         Harris-Elmore Public Library 

 E-readers have been around for years, but with the sudden popularity of Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, these little tablets are making a comeback big time. In the small library world, I bet many of your patrons received some type of e-reader for Christmas and have been streaming in asking if you have digital books for borrowing—or worse, a barrage of questions…

 HOW DO I USE MY READER?

HOW DO I DOWNLOAD TO MY READER?

WHY IS THE BOOK I WANT NOT AVAILABLE? OR NOT IN THE RIGHT FORMAT?

COMPATIBLE? WHAT?

 Then the librarian/clerk at the front desk stares with a blank look on their face and the patron is irritated. Sound familiar?

 We are here to help you field these questions, as well as to realize the advantages and disadvantages to incorporating e-readers into your small library.

 Advantages: E reader popularity has increased readership and is bringing more people into the library to download books and ask for assistance

  • Brings up our circulation figures (if you are counting digital media as well as print)
  • E readers can increase the size of fonts and screen, so the elderly can order regular ebooks, rather than large print titles

Disadvantages:

  • Digital Rights Management—which are access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders, and individuals to limit the use of digital content and devices.

    **
    This is why Amazon’s Kindle does not work well if at all with libraries digital software (mainly Overdrive), why an ebook you want is not available or the waiting list is so long for it (libraries can buy titles, but they only come with so many licenses for viewing at the same time—or certain books are not yet available in digital format and sometimes never will be)
    More on explaining DRM can be found here 
  • There are several different file formats for different readers (though most will work with EPUB format through Adobe) which can force libraries to buy several copies in different formats for one title

 

 

 Regardless of the pros and cons of e-readers, our patrons are using them at a rapid rate and as their access to content,we have to keep up with their needs. For small libraries, we don’t always have the funds to buy several kinds of e readers with preloaded books (though a nice idea) for circulation among our patrons, or sometimes even one reader to practice with and to train staff. Our main concern other than having access to digital titles (which we can’t always provide unfortunately) is to TRAIN OUR STAFF to help patrons to use their e-readers and to make full use of our digital library as well as what they can download for themselves via the internet. Here are a few tips…

  • Join and/or make use of a consortium such as SEO (Serving Every Ohian) who provide an array of digital titles for audio and ebook through Overdrive using Overdrive media and Adobe Edition. This way your particular library will only have to provide few titles to contribute and not be relied upon to support an entire digital library—you can borrow someone elses
  • Take advantage of your regional Ohio Library Council Chapter Conferences as they will be displaying and showing attendees how to use different types of e-readers and other fun electronics in the “Gadget Gallery”
  • Familarize yourself with your digital system software at your library, whether it be Overdrive or another vendor. You can learn more about Overdrive formats at the Ohio Ebook Project.  Here are also general directions about downloading the needed software to your computer and loading it to your particular ereader or audio device.  Quickstart Guide to Overdrive
  • If your staff is unfamiliar with a certain reader, go to the readers manufacturer website and read the FAQ’s about loading and using the e-reader. 80-90% of the time you can answer a patrons questions just by doing this.
  • Have a training session for your staff and patrons about using your digital software and several different kinds of e-readers.  Barnes & Noble Staff will come to libraries for free sessions with staff or public to demonstrate the Nook…I’m sure other places may do so as well.

Here is a list of the most commonly used e-readers and some directions on how to use them to load books from Overdrive.  Special thanks to the Columbus Metropolitan Library for sharing these details!

Amazon Kindle

Currently, the Kindle is not compatible with OverDrive. It does not support the Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, which publishers and suppliers require for EPUB and PDF eBooks offered through the OverDrive service.You can also find thousands of books for download to the Kindle on Amazon.

Formats: none.. only .amz

Barnes and Noble Nook

The Nook is a library-compatible eBook device, and it offers more than two million books for wireless download through Barnes & Noble. It can store up to 6,000 books, magazines and newspapers, and a memory card can be added for more storage. You can also access Wi-Fi with this device.

What you’ll need to get started with Digital Downloads:

EPUB and PDF eBooks work with this device.

As a first time user, you’ll need to download free software to your personal computer in order to utilize this service.

For both the EPUB and Adobe PDF eBook, you’ll need to download the Adobe Digital Editions software to your PC.

Here is a helpful OverDrive blog post for the Nook.

Step-by-step instructions to get EPUB or PDF eBooks onto your Nook.

Formats:

Sharper Image Literati

The Sharper Image Literati is sold through several retailers and is powered by Kobo, an online bookstore with partners such as Borders. This device is compatible with your library card and includes a seven-color display, built-in wireless bookstore and comes preloaded with 25 books.

What you’ll need to get started with Digital Downloads:

EPUB and PDF eBooks work with this device.

As a first time user, you’ll need to download free software to your personal computer in order to utilize this service.

For both the EPUB and Adobe PDF eBook, you’ll need to download the Adobe Digital Editions software to your PC.

Step-by-step instructions to get EPUB or PDF eBooks onto your Literati.

Formats:

Sony Pocket Reader – PRS-350

The Sony Reader Pocket Edition offers you the ability to resize text and is compatible with your library card. The battery stays charged for two weeks (7,500 page turns), and the device supports multiple formats including PDFs and Word.

What you’ll need to get started:

EPUB and PDF eBooks work with this device.

As a first time user, you’ll need to download free software to your personal computer in order to utilize this service.

For both the EPUB and Adobe PDF eBook, you’ll need to download and install the Reader Library software to your PC. The Reader Library software should be accessible from your eReader device when connected to your PC.

Here is a helpful OverDrive blog post for the Sony eReaders.

Step-by-step instructions to get EPUB or PDF eBooks onto your Sony Pocket Reader PRS 350

Formats:

Sony Daily Reader – PRS-950

The Sony Daily Reader is compatible with your library card and is optimized for newspapers. It includes touch screen navigation and free 3G wireless access. You can use the included stylus to take freehand notes and highlight sections of text or export your notes to a computer using the Reader Library software. There’s also a virtual keyboard.

What you’ll need to get started:

EPUB and PDF eBooks work with this device.

As a first time user, you’ll need to download free software to your personal computer in order to utilize this service.

For both the EPUB and Adobe PDF eBook, you’ll need to download and install the Reader Library software to your PC. The Reader Library software should be accessible from your eReader device when connected to your PC.

Here is a helpful OverDrive blog post for the Sony eReaders.

Step-by-step instructions to get EPUB or PDF eBooks onto your Sony Daily Reader PRS-950.

Formats:

Borders Kobo

Borders Kobo can be used with your library card and includes 100 free pre-loaded books. The most current version also allows you to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots. The battery lasts for up to two weeks (or 10,000 page turns) and approximately 1,000 eBooks can be stored on this device. A 32 GB SD memory card expands the storage capability to 10,000 eBooks. You’ll also have the ability to read your eBooks on additional devices such as iPhone, Android and iPad.

What you’ll need to get started with Digital Downloads:

EPUB and PDF eBooks work with this device.

As a first time user, you’ll need to download free software to your personal computer in order to utilize this service.

For both the EPUB and Adobe PDF eBook, you’ll need to download the Adobe Digital Editions software to your PC.

Here is a helpful OverDrive blog post for the Kobo.

Step-by-step instructions to get EPUB or PDF eBooks onto your Kobo.

Formats:

Apple iPad

The iPad is not classified as an eReader, but you can download books to this device. The iPad allows you to surf websites, write emails, flick through photos or watch videos. The device has a touch screen and thousands of apps are available.

You can access thousands of ebook titles via apps from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Free ebooks can be found through Project Gutenberg. A native app from Overdrive is also available for reading library eBooks.

What you’ll need to get started with Digital Downloads:

EPUB eBooks work with this device.

As a first time user, you’ll need to visit the App Store on your iPad (also works with iPhone or iPod Touch) to get the Overdrive Media Console.

For Adobe PDF eBook, you’ll need an Adobe Digital Editions Account. Do NOT attempt to install Adobe software on your iPad–you only need to sign up for an account.

Step-by-step instructions to get EPUB eBooks onto your iPad.

Formats:

Also, here is a pretty handy list of e-readers that are supported in the EPUB format by Adobe Editions
For those kindle users out there, don’t despair….here is a FREE website called E -Book Fling that allows owners of Kindles and Nooks to share, swap, borrow, or lend their purchased ebooks.  Libraries should be aware of these free sharing sites.  Kindle users, as well as other ebook users can also obtain free titles of classic novels at http://www.freeclassicebooks.com/  or you can google free books for kindle, nook, sony reader, etc.
Hopefully you can now face that patron without an uncomprehending stare and will find ways to incorporate e-readers into your libraries.  Don’t worry, the printed word is not going anywhere, but lets not pretend that digital books are just a fad either.  I wouldn’t put a lot of your funding specifically into digital media if you are in a consortium until they can better the DRM issue, but set aside a few dollars to keep up with the e-reader revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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