By Chris Rippel, System Consultant, Central Kansas Library System
I have been interested in electronic reading devices since the introduction of Rocketbooks in 2000. Though circulating this ebook reader hardware has many barriers and headaches, providing content for patron-owned devices offers many advantages to public libraries:
- Same minute purchasing and acquisition of titles made “just-in-time” purchasing feasible
- No need for shelving, which reduces the need to weed
- Automatic check-in eliminates overdues
Obtaining this dream has several requirements. One requirement is hardware that is affordable, reliable and usable so patrons would purchase their own devices. Though Rocketbooks provided a satisfactory reading experience, hardware costs, battery life, little content at high prices and, worst of all, DRM preventing sharing content prevented their widespread adoption. This new generation, i.e., Sony Reader, Kindle, and Nook, use a different display technology requiring less power to display text. The new devices are, therefore, lighter in weight and last days between recharging. And the price of devices is lower at $260.
Earlier this year, I wanted to know whether these devices would survive in the marketplace or if they will fade away like their predecessors. So Steve Thomas and I posted a five-question survey on three online forums for Kindle and Nook users. We received 105 responses.
I had expected these surveys to reveal that Kindles and Nooks provided a “satisfactory” reading experience. I did not expect readers to claim they are reading 2, 3, 4, even 10 times, more books. I did not expect 77% to claim they are reading different stuff than they read before. I did not expect claims of reading faster with greater comprehension. I did not expect devices to make reading easier for those with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and ADD. I did not expect 90% to claim their reading habits are permanently changed. The summary report and complete answers are at:
The second requirement for the dream is for libraries to have content. OverDrive has thousands of books and the collection is growing better. And Nook owners are learning on the online forums that libraries offer free content through OverDrive. Do not be surprised when patrons start asking about this.
A third requirement is that devices accept content from the outside sources such as libraries. At this time Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble Nooks will accept content from the state of Kansas’ OverDrive collection of ebooks. I have loaded several OverDrive ebooks on my Nook. The process is not hard once I learned to look in the “My documents” directory instead of the directory containing my Barnes & Noble books.
The fourth requirement is having instructions teaching how to load OverDrive books onto their devices. I have links to several sources of online instructions at: