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My library offers e-books, both audio and text versions. As you can imagine, the learning curve for this is very steep. We have handouts to help people get started, but depending on what they want to do, I could give them up to 5 handouts and that is just seriously overwhelming.
I happen to use this service quite a bit. At first I was only downloading audio books for my long drives to get the Boy or visits to Spokane. I like listening to books and find that I remember much more of the story when I listen, rather than read. The reader can make all the difference and I have my favorites for sure. More recently, I have gotten into the text version, when I started using netgalley to read and review newer books. I don’t like reading on the computer screen though, so it was only when the Bluefire app made it possible to read them on my iPod Touch that I really started using the service. Shortly before my trip to Nevada, Bluefire added an update so that you could use their reader with library books, so I loaded up a couple of titles to take with me. It turns out I have preference for format.
The first book I read on my iPod was The Lying Game by Sara Shepard, the beginning of a new series (she did Pretty Little Liars). That book was a dream to read on the iPod–which as you know has a tiny screen. It put a few sentences on each “page” and the text was just as big, if not bigger, than it would have been in a physical book. The second book I read was Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft. This one I almost didn’t continue, but it was really good, so I kept going back. The print was small and they crammed the whole page onto the screen. I soon figured out that you could turn the screen sideways and the print got bigger and you just tapped the lower portion of the screen to scroll to the next part. It was still a strain on the eyes, though. What was the difference? The first was an EPUB file and the second was a pdf. The EPUB is much more adaptable, probably much better for those with low vision. I am guessing this is why when Overdrive finally caught up with Bluefire (2 weeks later ;) and allowed direct download of text based ebooks to an iPhone or iPod Touch, they only allowed books with the EPUB format. There might be more to it–there always is where DRM is involved, but I am sure the flexibility of EPUB was a factor. While I have read several more books in the pdf format, it is only because Netgalley doesn’t tell you what format the books they offer are available in, so if you get a pdf, you just have to deal (or offend the publisher by not reviewing the book they gave you for free). I have made the suggestion that they include format information on the item record and got one of those “we’re thinking about it” answers.
So, if you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch and are thinking about downloading library books, DO IT! They’re great! I would just stick to the EPUB for now and read the other titles in book form. I am sure that pdf looks just great on an iPad or other reader, but if you have low vision, it is probably still a pain trying to make the text bigger–you can do it temporarily, but text will go off the side of the screen and the whole thing will go back to the original when you turn the page.
What am I reading? I started Pirates! by Celia Rees in digital format through Overdrive, but I think they must have used the galley version. There are so many typos I just couldn’t handle it and stopped reading (most galleys aren’t that bad). It seems like a less cheeky, more affluent Bloody Jack so far. I’ll get back to it later, maybe on audio book.
So now I am reading The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (physical book). It is the first book in a sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and is written in the same mien, but seems more mature somehow. I think that Riordan’s writing and style have improved through his last 5 books (imagine that) and while his books have always been interesting and exciting, now they have a bit more refinement. I am thoroughly enjoying this one, and not just because there is a gorgon around the corner.