Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Library Ebooks -- Oh My!

I'm not that interested in the ebook versus print debate.  I love the ability to read an ebook on my phone, ipad, or Kindle, but I also LOVE books as objects.  I will continue to read, collect, and buy book books.  If physical books were to disappear, I would be devastated, but I'm now at the point where I would miss ebooks as well (not that they are going anywhere).  I hope the view that more ways for people to read equals more readers/more reading in the world is not too naive.

When I first purchased a Kindle (foolishly, many years ago when one cost about 4x what it does now), I was delighted by the promise that most bestsellers would be available for $9.99 or less.  Many years later, the savvy ebook reader with the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo apps on her phone and/or tablet can check daily deals on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo to find fantastic ebooks available for a limited time (usually one day or one month) for two or three dollars.  This bargain ebook search is part of my morning routine.

Such discounts are great and do introduce readers to new books and authors.  It's easy to gamble on an unknown or barely known quantity for $1.99.  I admit though that I have now one-clicked my way into more $2 ebooks than I currently have interest in and time for reading.  In fact, buying discounted ebooks is the new version of my old habit of buying hardbacks in the Barnes and Noble Bargain Book aisles.  Unfortunately, I did the bulk of my bargain book buying in the years when I was moving apartments every one or two years.  Nothing like moving box after box of heavy books that you haven't read but thought you might because they were only $5.99.

Though I've always been willing to spend money on books, I have also been a frequent user of the public library.  When I lived in Chicago before the age of the ipod, I regularly scoured five different branches of the Chicago Public Library to find audiobooks on tape and CD to check out.  While there, I made a habit of checking the "new books" shelf and was often pleasantly surprised to find at least one recent release that I would have paid for but could now borrow.  The ability to order and hold books at public libraries makes it even easier to read desired books, especially if you possess patience.

I now have access to one of the most wonderful suburban public libraries imaginable:  The Elmhurst Public Library.  I've known for a couple of years that ebooks and digital audiobooks were available through the EPL, but sort of figured that it would be a technological challenge to download them and that the ebooks available would mostly be public domain titles that I can easily access elsewhere.  WRONG.  It took about five minutes on the library's website to read the tutorial and get started checking out ebooks.  If you want a more recent release, you will have to place a hold and wait until it is your turn, which can take a while.  Unless you are a great advance planner or get lucky, library ebooks are probably not the best choice for book club selections or required school reading.  I personally don't mind the wait.  I like knowing a good book will be coming to me sometime soon(ish) and it's sort of a happy surprise to get the email saying that your ebook title is available.  Life's little pleasures, etc.

I have also been downloading children's titles to my eight year-old's ereader.  The chapter books he reads now can sometimes be finished in a matter of a couple hours so it's fantastic to be able to refuel him at no cost when he is in a voracious reading stage!  My library has a limit of 5 ebooks out on a particular account at one time and there is also a hold limit (not sure what it is, only that I have reached it).  When you finish a book, you can return it digitally.  If you forget, it disappears from your device when your time is up.  Easy peasy.

My first library ebook?  Delia Ephron's Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc.  My current library ebook?  Thanks to rave reviews on Goodreads from a grade school friend, I just started Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas.  In the hold queue for?  Want Not by Jonathan Miles, Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, and This One is Mine by Maria Semple.  Fingers crossed that they don't all become available at the same time.

Next adventure?  Investigate digital audiobooks through the library.  I can't imagine that I would give up my Audible subscription, but I'd like to be able to supplement as two audiobooks per month are often not enough.

Anyone else test drive the digital content available at your local public library?

1 comment:

  1. Thankful for Goodreads to help me keep everything in order. I also benefit from a great public library...Carnegie Library system in Pittsburgh. I try to use Goodreads as a master "to read" list, find ebook at library, check out paper books when I can't find ebooks (right now reading paper book of "Me Before You" for my book club--thanks for the recommendation). I also get one book a month from the Amazon Prime lenders library selection (which is limited and hard to search, but I feel compelled to get a book a month to help justify my Prime membership). I received a Kindle in December and went on a reading and "hold request" spree, but things have calmed down. I also loaded my Kindle with several "good deal" books, but have tried to stick to more classics I haven't read, just finished "12 years a slave" and starting soon "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
    My 9 year old received a Nook/tablet last and is a fast reader, but does not like ebooks. I think for her, if she has electronics in her hands, it is for games. Maybe I'll get her a dedicated eReader in the future.