What about eBooks?

An eBook is an electronic version of a traditional print book. You can also find information about eAudiobooks (digital recordings of actors or authors reading their work) on our Web site. We are discussing eBooks specifically here.

What are the benefits of eBooks?

How do I read an eBook?

Are free eBooks available? (with links to OverDrive how-to guides)

How do I choose an eReader?

What are the benefits of eBooks?

eBooks that are available for purchase or loan can be downloaded on the spot. If you can download titles to a reader or portable device, you can carry your library with you. Often other features are available such as searching, getting definitions, and making notes within the text.

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How do I read an eBook?

We are not aware of a single device that lets you buy (or borrow) eBooks from any store (or Library) of your choice. Why is this so? Click here if you really want to know all of the technical details.

Devices: eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, and the Barnes & Noble Nook are becoming more popular. Apple's iPad sells books through their iBooks store. Each device has pros and cons, and prices for many devices have been dropping lately. You may also be able to download the eBook to your PC, your iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry, etc., depending on where the content is coming from. eReaders may lock you into purchasing content from one store; notably, as of now Kindle content must come from Amazon. However, on April 20, 2011, Amazon announced that later in 2011 they will work with OverDrive to provide eBook loans to library patrons.

Apps: Rather than purchasing a separate device, you can download eReaders as apps to your computer or to a portable device. The free Blio reader is now available for PCs. It currently works with Windows and promises that iPhone, iPad, and Android versions are coming soon. Amazon has also released a free Kindle app for PC, Mac, iPad, Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry. OverDrive announced in December, 2010, that apps are now available for the iPhone, iPod touch, and Android phone/tablet, and more. The same announcement says that an optimized version for iPad, along with apps for BlackBerry and other mobile devices, are "coming soon."

Browser: In December 2010 Google unveiled their long-awaited Google eBookstore. These eBooks can be read through any Web browser with no special device needed but can also be read on many devices. According to their overview, "Access all your ebooks wirelessly, no matter where you go. Google eBooks stores your library in the digital cloud, so you can read all of your favorite books using just about any device with an Internet connection. Google eBooks is compatible with Android phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, web browsers and many supported eReaders. Whenever you open one of your books, we'll pick up right where you left off."  According to CNET News, "Google's books should also work on several e-reader devices that support Adobe's technology, like Barnes & Noble's Nook or Sony's Reader, with a notable exception: Amazon's Kindle ... "

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Are free eBooks available? (with links to OverDrive how-to guides)

In January, 2011, the Selco regional library system went live with a collection of current and popular fiction and nonfiction, including books for children and teens. These are available through OverDrive, which enables you to borrow eBooks with your library card just as you do other materials. (SELCO also provides eAudiobooks through OverDrive.) As metioned above, the Kindle will not work for borrowing eBooks because you are locked into purchasing content through the Amazon store, but Amazon has announced that they will begin working with OverDrive later in 2011.

  • See OverDrive's list of Compatible eBook Devices, or their shorter "cheat sheet" version.
  • This OverDrive guide covers two topics: page 1 covers using the OverDrive mobile app, and page 2 provides instructions for transferring to an eReader.
  • The "Being Ruth" blog has a helpful step-by-step guide to transferring books to the Barnes & Noble Nook specifically.

Some eBooks are also available through our statewide subscription to NetLibrary. These are mostly academic titles, and the subscription does not include the ability to download to a portable device.

If you download a free app such as Blio or Kindle mentioned above, you can find free eBooks through those apps. Many Web sites also offer free eBooks. You will not find current bestsellers available for free; most of what you will find are items in the public domain (i.e., older items no longer covered by copyright). Some sites only make titles available to read via your browser, other sites offer downloads. The article "eBooks for Free" in the Huffington Post has great suggestions.  Below are links to some of the more well-known and comprehensive sources of free eBooks.

bartleby.com
www.feedbooks.com (free public domain and original books)
www.gutenberg.org (Project Gutenberg offers mobile downloads)
www.ibiblio.org
books.google.com/books (Google Books: read via your web browser, some downloads available)
books.google.com/ebooks (Google eBookstore: find free eBooks via their home page or toggle "Free only" under "Price" after you do a search)

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How do I choose an eReader?

Consumer Reports has rated devices. If you have an Owatonna Public Library card you can go to our subscription at ConsumerReports.org, enter your card number, and search for "e-book readers" (without quotes) in the search box at the top of the screen. Use their spelling of "e-book" and you will see the information pop up immediately. Print copies of Consumer Reports are also available at Owatonna Public Library.

Wired Magazine has a series of 2010 Buying Guides, including What You Need to Know When Buying an E-Book Reader.

If you want to choose an eReader that will allow you to borrow Library books, take a look at OverDrive's list of Compatible eBook Devices for readers that will work with the Selco Overdrive collection.

We will mention one more time that Amazon's Kindle does not currently allow you to borrow eBooks from the library, but they have just announced plans to allow this later in 2011.

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Updated May 4, 2011