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Just in Time for the Holidays: E-Book Readers and Libraries

Written on: December 3rd, 2010 by: in Blog Posts

Ho- Ho- How do you know which one to buy? This year, electronic device sales are going to be a strong overall category in holiday spending, and e-readers are going to be well represented. Lots of people will be getting their first ereader this year, is my safe prediction- and not just tech-savvy early adopters.

This year, Aunt Mabel will be getting a Kindle in her stocking- Forrester Research predicts almost 30 million Americans will own an ereader by 2015- so with Aunt Mabel in mind, here are some points to ponder when you make your e-reader purchase plans:

How much am I going to spend overall? Even at the bargain rate of $9.99 per title, read one book a week and that’s and additional $520/year. (maybe waiting for a week or two for a print copy from your library doesn’t look so onerous)

Do you want the cheapest ereader available? Kindle is head and shoulders above the rest in this category- the WiFi Kindle can be found for $150 or less. However, as with razors, once you buy the handle, you have to keep buying the blades- Kindles do not support purchases or downloads from any other vendor or source.

Do you want to be able to access ebooks offered by your library? Barnes and Noble’s Nook, or the Sony eReader are good choices for you. E-book collections are going to expand in all libraries, including Delaware libraries- in fact, 66% of all U.S. libraries currently offer ebooks of some sort. If you currently have an ereader and want to access our collection, there are more instructions below.

Do you want a multi-purpose device? An iPad, Nook, or Kindle will also allow you to check email and go online with full 3G connection. Other devices such as some Sony’s are limited to WiFi.

Do you want to read comics? The Nook Color or iPad are best bets. Other models currently depend on the energy saving e-ink technology, which is not really optimal for comics.

(thanks to for the talking points)

Another leading ereader discussion site, also has good advice for first time buyers: The Sony Daily Edition is a great choice because of its big screen, browser, and open format; the Kindle is recommended if you value ease-of-use over everything and never want to have to deal with a computer again; the Nook Color is the best choice if you’re buying an ereader for a kid. Anything else is best avoided- and the iPad is too heavy to serve JUST as a reader.

This is a basic overview of how to download from the library collection to a compatible e-reader:

As noted above, Delaware’s libraries will provide an increasing amount of ebook holdings in the near future. It’s not a fad that can be wished away! In fact, the Delaware Library Catalog has offered ebooks and digital content in various formats for several years now- even before there were Kindles and Nooks. Our collections have predominantly been either academically oriented or been mainly made up of non-fiction and reference titles. It’s always been an expensive proposition to provide popular fiction and ‘best-sellers’ in digital format, especially to a niche/boutique market segment. With the mainstreaming of ebooks in the last year or so, however, libraries everywhere are having to reassess their collection strategies and look for ways to provide meaningful amounts of ebook copies without finding magically-appearing new dollars for acquisitions! Stay tuned for announcements throughout 2011, but in general, look for an overall expansion of downloadable content in our existing ebook selection, and for the rollout of new ebook platforms.

Currently, the ebook content of the Delaware Library Catalog consists of e-audio books provided by NetLibrary, a focused selection of downloadable ebooks from NetLibrary, and ebook content hosted on our EBSCO premium content subscriptions. NetLibrary eAudio are unabridged audiobooks in downloadable digital format, mostly able to be transferred to an iPod or other compatible MP3 player. NetLibrary eBooks include downloadable titles, mainly on business and entrepreneurship, and a large number of other non-fiction titles that can be viewed online, but cannot be downloaded or “checked-out” to an ereader. In the main ebook search screen on the NetLibrary site, you can limit the results to only display downloadable titles:

Even if you don’t limit the search, downloadable ebooks can be recognized through the options listed- you can view any ebook on your computer, and downloadable titles will list an additional option:

The crucial difference between library-based ebooks in Delaware’s collections, and the overall expectation of ebook users is that users are still PC/MAC-dependent for downloading and managing their checkouts- it can’t (yet) all be done on the device itself.

Here’s a general overview of the download process for NetLibrary titles. There’s some work involved in setting up the appropriate downloads on your home PC, but in my experience it’s very straightforward to manage your collection and device once the initial work is complete. There’s more comprehensive help available at this NetLibrary page.