Saturday, November 22, 2008

Overdrive and E-Books

We offer Overdrive to our patrons here at the BPL. I really like the fact that they offer not only e-books, but also audiobooks, music,videos, games, and inter-active media all from one convenient service. I chose to examine this service more closely through exploration of their collection of e-books. Their catalog was easy enough to browse by broad subject category. An addition however, if one wanted simply to browse popular or new titles, there were separate sections of the catalog for the top 100 most viewed titles, items most recently returned, and recently purchased titles. It is interesting to note here, that upon perusal of the recently returned list, I discovered that the public's preferred format of choice with respect to the non-print book formats, was by far the audiobook. I must say that I, myself, know quite a few individuals who habitually listen to audiobooks while driving in their car. I liked the fact that most entries in the Overdrive catalog provided the user with a summary of the book, as well as excerpts of text and item reviews. Patrons can also locate Overdive titles via our main library catalog and once downloaded they can be read on the computer or handheld devices. An improvement that I would like to see with respect to this service is an increase in its e-book holdings, both with respect to the depth of the collection and as well as its currency.

In keeping with the current economic environment, I downloaded the electronic version of Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. One can never get enough information as to how to make the most of their income, especially at a time like this!!!! The text was legible enough as far as the single page view was concerned, but when I switched to the double-paged format, I found it to be a bit blurry. Since this was my preferred method of viewing the text, it really detracted from the over-all quality of my reading experience. Aside from the clearer text, I didn't find the single-paged format to be anymore enjoyable to use, as the page breaks were in odd places from one screen to the next which I found distracting. The viewing screen could be much easier to navigate, if its interface were more user-friendly. There are adequate instructions on the help page, but who wants to be inconvenienced by having to constantly flip back and forth between it and the viewing page in order to figure out how the system works. Some of the reader's more advantageous features include, annotated bookmarking capability, a table of contents appropriately linked to sections of text for navigational purposes, a personal holdings library which can be organized by user-generated categories, and system compatibility that allows for the transfer of one's entire personal library from one computer to another with ease.

At this point I, myself, would much rather stick with the printed page. For me the good-old book is easier to read and much more comfortable and convenient to use, as I can take it with me almost anywhere. Besides, who wants to be stuck sitting in front of the computer when you could be curled up on the sofa with a good read! Perhaps, I should try experiencing this same format again, once it is downloaded on a portable handheld device.

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