Thursday, 29 December 2011

#blog12daysxmas 3 Moving to the dark side

It happened. I didn't think it would, but it did. I bought an eReader. More so, I am using the eReader. One of the reasons I delayed for so long is one we hear all the time - loving the feel of books, turning pages, cosied up in bed at night, especially in winter. The other reason (and to be honest, the main one) was the inevitable quagmire of information I would need to wade through to find something that suited me and was potentially the most user centric. By user centric I don't mean user friendly; I mean finding an eReader that would allow me to read as many books as possible and not be so proprietary.

So many people tend to use 'Kindle' interchangeably with 'eReader' and I started to get asked quite a few questions about buying a 'Kindle' from people I knew (based on my profession) because they wanted cheap books and they also wanted to have something light and portable. Explaining to them that buying a Kindle did not mean they would have access to all the books they may be after and then trying to further explain that not all books may be released as an eBook and the further complications of DRM made me realise that I needed to increase my own awareness of what was out there and what the suitability is for libraries.

Yarra Plenty is part of a consortia with Brisbane City Libraries offering ebooks and audiobooks for download. Whilst this has taken a while to really become well used, we are now lending out over 2000 eBooks/audio books via Overdrive a month. Unfortunately, not one item is compatible with the Kindle (although I believe it can read a pdf? I need to play more). Because of the tendency of the public to gravitate towards a Kindle as their eReader of choice, I feel we (myself included) needed to find out more about eReaders. I have two staff members who were always very keen to train the public in using eReaders and downloading from Overdrive. They became so proficient that they ran training sessions for the rest of the library service and will be running refreshers later next year. To help facilitate this, Yarra Plenty provided each branch with a 'digital petting zoo', comprising a Sony eReader, iPad and Kindle, for staff to borrow and play with in order to become more familiar with these particular devices. Budget permitting, it’s a wonderful way for staff to learn through play.

I asked flexnib and snail for pointers in starting me off and ended up with more information than I thought originally possible. Even though an eReader may take a particular format (for example .epub), there was no guarantee that actually buying a title in that format would allow me to read it in a device that accepted .epub. Try explaining that to someone who wants a ‘Kindle’!

So what did I end up getting? I bought a cheap Gear2Go from Big W :) It’s compatible with .epub, pdf, .txt, .rtf and .html. It shows pictures in colour and is backlit, although not with the glare of the iPad. Battery life is ok, could be better, but for the price I can live with it.

Who else has gone to the dark side??


SharonU said...

Let me know how you go with your ereader. My tablet has the ability to be an ereader too but having issues with memory.

I can't wait till we offer ebooks via our library service but it is such a hard choice as to who to go with. Does YPRL get many disgruntled Kindle users wanting to download from Overdrive?

Tania said...

We have had complaints from Kindle users about it. There's nothing much we can do. I've been told that Amazon will have things available for Overdrive later next year. Will be interesting to see if that eventuates.

Gemma said...

When I venture down this path I will probably buy what you did Tan so that I can just come to your house and get you to load everything for me! Great having a techno friend :)

Tania said...

You'll have to bring a mem stick Gem! :)