Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All I want for the holidays is an ebook reader!

Last January a common question from library patrons was, “I was given an ebook reader for the holidays; does the library have digital books that I can read on it?” With all of the discussion about ebooks that we have seen in the media lately, we expect to hear this from even more patrons after the holidays this year. And the short answer is, “Yes, we do have an ebook collection that Downers Grove Public Library patrons can borrow, just like you borrow print books.” The longer answer must include the warning that our ebooks can be read on most brands of ebook readers – but not all of them.

Library collections offer ebooks in the standard formats of DRM (digital rights management) protected EPUB and PDF. Ebooks in these formats can be read on most computers and ebook readers. Downers Grove patrons can access our collection of downloadable audio and ebooks through our website: In fact, as you read this blog librarians are selecting more titles for our ebook collection, in anticipation of the holiday rush.

Unfortunately, some of the vendors of ebook readers have designed their machines to be proprietary. They can only read ebooks that have been purchased from that vendor. Some vendors also offer software that will convert free, public domain books from sources such as Project Gutenberg into a format that can be used on their proprietary reader, but they will not allow the owner to read ebooks that are purchased from other sources or borrowed from a library’s lending collections. This is not the library’s choice; it is the decision of the ebook vendor.

Anyone who would like to buy an ebook reader that read ebooks borrowed from the library or purchased from a variety of sources should look closely at the specifications of the ebook readers being considered. The library’s eMedia Library site includes information about supported ebook readers that can read ebooks in our collection. The site also provides information about MP3 players that can download the audio books in our collection.

In January, library staff will offer two workshops on how to download ebooks from the library collection, for those of you who would like some help learning how to do this.

Happy digital holidays to everyone!