check out an e-book!

If all the news articles and sales predictions were right, there were a lot of e-book readers given away at Christmas this year!

E-books are great for a lot of reasons. The readers are small, light, and more portable than print books; you can adjust type size and font for better readability; you can load several books on your reader at a time; and finding and downloading new books is as easy as clicking a mouse. Most e-readers also boast additional features, like acting as an MP3 player, offering a simple web browser, etc.

I own one of the original, first-generation Kindles from Amazon. I didn’t use it very much until the summer of 2008 when I was home with a new baby. It was great to be able to read one-handed and download new books without having to move the baby off my shoulder. But all those new books I was downloading started getting expensive… $9.99 a book is cheaper than most hardbacks, true, but still more than I was used to paying as a regular library user. So I started looking into borrowing e-books, which is when I discovered that the Kindle has purposely been designed not to be compatible with services that lend e-books — Amazon wants you to buy books, not borrow them.

So this fall, for my birthday, I got one of the Barnes & Noble Nook readers. I love it! I can purchase ebooks from the B&N store if I want, but I can borrow library ebooks, too. I’ve been doing that a lot over the past couple of months using the library’s OverDrive service.

Getting started with library e-books does take a couple of steps, and requires hooking your reader up to your computer at some point to transfer the books over. Once I had everything set up, though, it became super quick and easy to do. Here’s how to do it:

1. Download Adobe Digital Editions: this is the software you’ll use to manage your library e-books and put them on your reader. Download and install it on your computer; it’s compatible with all Windows and Apple operating systems.

2. Create an Adobe ID: you’ll use your Adobe ID to activate Adobe Digital Editions, which allows you to move ebooks from your computer to your e-reader.

3. Find an e-book at Download Destination: the library’s e-book site has more than 1,300 titles to choose from. Browse by release date or genre, search by author or title — odds are good you’ll find a book you’d like to read. You’ll probably see that some books have a “Place Hold” option instead of “Add to My Cart” – if you place a hold, the system will email you once the title is available. You can also put books on your wish list, which is just a reminder list of books you’d like to read in the future. Once you’ve got a title in your cart, follow the steps to check it out. You’ll need your library card number and PIN for this step. The very final step at Download Destination, after checking out your book, is to download it.

4. Open Adobe Digital Editions and plug your e-reader in to your computer. My Nook showed up immediately in Digital Editions as a reading device, and the library e-book I downloaded showed up in my Digital Editions library right away too. All I had to do was click the cover of the book and drag it over the Nook icon to transfer it.

5. Once your library e-book is loaded on your reader, you’re ready to go. On my Nook the library books show up under “documents” and not on my main bookshelf, but otherwise read just like any other e-book I’ve purchased.

Best of all, the books re-scramble themselves at the end of your lending period — no overdue fines! You can return them early using the menu at Adobe Digital Editions, too.

If you own an iPad/iPod Touch or smart phone, you can download the new and improved OverDrive Console app and read library e-books on your phone, too.

Still have questions? Come to the Library e-Books presentation on Sunday, Jan. 16th at 2pm. I’ll be there to demonstrate how to find, check out, and download e-books from Download Destination, then get them onto your reader. Please call or stop by to pre-register.

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About Heather Sturm

Director at Manchester District Library
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