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Library books fly off shelves to e-readers

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Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2011 1:00 am

Did you receive an e-reader for Christmas? If so, you should check out — literally — the eBooks available free through the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s website.

Kokomo Perspective: So, does the library pay a fee to make eBooks available to readers? How does it work? How many books, all total, including eBooks and audio, do KHCPL patrons have access to now? Do you plan to provide more? What has been the response by patrons?

Peg Harmon, assistant director of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library: Yes, we pay fees to Overdrive.  Overdrive emphasizes popular fiction and nonfiction in downloadable audio and e-Books, which can be transferred to personal devices. Overdrive does not work with Kindles. However, it does work with the Nook (Barnes and Noble), several Sony MP3 players and readers, iPods, iPhones, and iPads. A rather lengthy list of compatible devices can be found at http://www.overdrive.com/Resources/DRC/Default.aspx.

Overdrive’s audio collection was more popular than its e-Books until Christmas 2010.  Demand for e-Books exceeds audio now. In fact, Overdrive was so overwhelmed with traffic it took them down for a couple of days in late December. They are back up and running smoothly again with more servers to meet demand.  Downloadable music and videos are now available from Overdrive also.

Our statistics on the use of downloads  initially were disappointing but steadily increased over time. In November 2010, we had 335 downloads compared to 82 in November 2007.

I have been using Overdrive myself since it became possible to transfer to iPods. More recently, I purchased a Nook for my mother who has vision problems.  This makes it possible for her to enlarge the text. We both love it!

 Talking about how Overdrive works would take a lot of text and I would love to give advice on using Overdrive.  It takes some patience to figure it out and get everything set up.  Basically, one must have a valid library card, a compatible device, and a computer.  Additional software must be downloaded to the computer and an account set up. 

When a book is  ready to be “checked out” to an account, the user has three days to download it.  Once downloaded to the computer,  the user has seven to 14 days to transfer it to a personal device. Once on a personal device, it stays there until the user removes it. 

What I do is check the list of new books about once a month, and place holds on the ones I want. I get an e-mail when they are available for me to check out.  I check them out as soon as possible, download to by computer, and transfer to my iPod or my mother’s Nook, where they sit until I or my nother are ready to listen or read them. Right now I have five books on my iPod.

 The collection of books is not large and, because of the demand, it is often necessary to place holds on desired titles because they are not available for download right away.  People will not find everything they want but will find plenty to make it worthwhile.  I just finished listening to Condoleezza Rice’s autobiography, “Extraordinary Ordinary People,” and am currently listening to “Room,” by Emma Donaghue.

 This type of service is still relatively new and will only get better.

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