OMG am almost at the end of this tutorial. Where has the time gone?
E-books - I regularly read e-books. Why? Because I can. Because at 2 o'clock in the morning when I can't sleep and have been through everything in the house and start climbing the walls for something to read the internet is never closed, and my debit card is ever ready. Yes, I use debit card - the idea of debt makes me swoon so use a debit card instead. This means that what I spend is only what's on there - you can bet I shove a helluva lot on there 'cause I love to spend money!
Back to e-books. Have just watched the Introduction to NetLibrary video for an idea of how libraries and e-books work together. I had been poking around in New York Public Library's page about 2 months ago when I first came across the idea of a collection of downloadable media - theirs is known as eNYPL. I had so many questions after having cruised through their catalogue and the burning ones were, 'What the hell happens when you read it? Does it expire? Does it stop working? Does it blow up? WHAT?!' Now I know. It comes with a license for the duration of your checkout period. Also saw this same type of collection available for Hennepin County Library customers on their 'Downloads' page. Brilliant! You have a choice of Audiobooks, Videos and Music. Noticed in the Introduction to NetLibrary video that they use Windows Media Player format - wma - which means smaller files than your average mp3 or wav file, is that right? Is this the default? I don't know. Oh ok, doesn't play on iPods, Macs or Palms. Is it possible to convert with a programme like Switch? Unsure at this point. Is it important? I don't know. Must find out.
I have, of course, obvious queries that have been kicking around in the back of my head since browsing eNYPL's downloadable collection. The first being is it viable for Manukau Libraries? Is this an option we can exercise? Have played the 'What if' game with friends/family. You know the one, 'What if the library were closed, it was 1 o'clock in the morning, raining cats and dogs outside - would you choose to download an audiobook from your local library?' The answers, every time, were yes they would. And not even if it were raining cats and dogs in the wee hours of the morning. Huh, go figure! Is it a huge expense? Hmm, guess that's my second question. Financially, is it a viable option? I don't know.
In an earlier (much earlier post) I made reference to the fact that I enjoy reading e-books on my blackberry but that I wasn't so keen on downloading/reading the free available e-books. No snobbery involved, I just haven't yet found a free e-book that I want to download. Still, I live in hope. There are certain fiction authors whose stuff I prefer to buy in e-format, and other authors (yes, Miss Austen, I mean you) whom I prefer to own in hardcopy. So saying, I headed off to Project Gutenberg, which was one of the very first free e-book sites I ever visited. The discovery exercise for this piece asks me to explore some of the titles available, take a look at the different ways you can download or read them and blog about the experience. So, on the main page I typed 'Austen' in the Author search field and received the following results. Selected 'Austen, Jane, 1775-1817.' Next results show a listing of available titles in either e-book or audio format. Selected 'Pride and Prejudice' in e-book format (don't worry, will go back to check out the audio format later - curiosity compels me) and then scrolled down to see in what ways they can be downloaded. You can choose to view online or via Plucker Viewer (unfortunate sort of name, for anything really, let alone an e-book reader), plain text, Adobe and TeX. Why did I choose this e-book? Why, for the very first line, of course! 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.' Classic! Went back to check out the audio files and found them to be in the following formats: Ogg Vorbis, Apple iTunes, mp3 and Speex audio.
At home I have two choices for reading my e-books, I can use either my pc or my blackberry. My e-reader is Mobipocket which you can download for free here. It's a relatively simple process to install and start using. Even better, once you're up and running with your Mobipocket reader you can access a variety of online book stores from inside it and always be logged in, although I tend to use mostly Mobipocket, Fiction Wise and Books On Board. The files themselves are relatively small, and because I use Mobipocket all of my files are in .prc format. One of the things I also like about Mobipocket is that I can download their Mobipocket Creator and make up text files into e-books myself. You can create your own e-books with the built-in templates for a variety of reasons, some of which Mobipocket list are: photo albums, birthday and anniversary date books, cooking recipe database, personal dictionary/glossary, quizzes, personal travel guide, shopping list, restaurant guides etc.
Do I believe that the popularity of e-books will eventually see the demise of the printed word? Absolutely not. I'm an avid e-book reader, but that hasn't stopped me from reading proper books as heavily as I have always done. In fact, ask anyone at the branch and they'll tell you my pile of requested books is about the same as it's always been . . . there's just slightly more of them when I'm not in assignment-mode.