Checking out library books on your eReader?

sonylib.jpgGot a Sony eReader and use the Sony Reader store? Well check out the little blue & white box in the right-hand sidebar on the page.

Yep, you read correctly — you can check out books from the library and read them on your eReader.

In early December, Sony (and technology providers Overdrive) will have hundreds of Canadian libraries hooked up and ready to lend books; many libraries are already set up and running. As I understand it, only libraries in Atlantic Canada will be missing…for now.

This Library search page will help you find a participating library in your region. For example, entering Alberta in the search field turned up a large number of participating libraries in my province.

libfindersearch.jpg

The system requires you have an Adobe account to manage the DRM and ‘return’ of the eBook you ‘borrowed’. Actually the DRM just expires and you can’t read it after the lending period runs out. Which is another way of saying you don’t have to remember to return borrowed eBooks back to the library.

Not every book at your library will be available for loan, but as libraries start to convert their catalogues to digital, you’ll find more and more of the popular reads on your library’s virtual shelves. Welcome to the 21st century :smileyhappy:

Kobo eReader updated — much better!

Though it’s a great device, I’ve always been a little disappointed with my Kobo eReader. Sure, I got the cool black one, and it will let me read my ebooks, but the reading experience was never that polished. It’s almost as if the software running the eReader was unfinished.

Some of the things that annoyed me were:

  • strong flicker when changing pages
  • confusion over power light status (blue/red/purple — means what?)
  • confusion over charging process / status
  • battery life wasn’t as good as I thought
  • text size was not changeable  for some ePubs

But the key word above is are ‘annoyed’ – past tense.

Not Annoyed
Kobo’s released their latest firmware update, and it addresses many of my concerns. And after doing the update, this thing feels new. Snappy! To quote from their website:

What’s In the Upgrade

Everything that we talked about here, here, and here.

The highlights:

  • The ability to resize fonts for any ePub file, no matter where it comes from.
  • Improved battery management
  • The ability to hide/show the preloaded free classics
  • Charging lights that make sense (red/violet when charging, blue when finished)

The Upgrade Process
Initially the upgrade was available to people who signed up to an ‘early access‘ program — ostensibly to help manage the rollout of the upgrade and catch any bugs that may still be in the code.

Then, after a period of time, the update was enabled for everyone.

Here’s how the upgrade works:

  1. Launch your Kobo desktop software on your computer.
  2. Connect your Kobo eReader to your computer.
  3. When prompted, download and install the updated Kobo desktop software.
  4. Restart the Kobo desktop software, and reconnect your Kobo eReader.
  5. Follow the prompts as the Kobo desktop software recognizes that your eReader hasn’t been updated yet.

It’s really that simple. You may have to repeat steps 1 and 2 a couple of times as it seems that the Kobo desktop software doesn’t always ‘phone home’ to see if there’s an update.

Oh, and you will need a paper clip (to hit the recessed reset button) and a bit of manual dexterity as you have to push 2 buttons and the middle of the Navigation Pad all at the same time to set the unit into update mode.

The firmware it didn’t ship with
Kudos to Kobo development staff for listening to customer concerns and getting this update out. While I’m glad to see this firmware release fix these issues, it’s unfortunate that the Kobo eReader didn’t ship with this version initially.

But hey, it’s out now and it works well. Time to read another book!

How to easily convert almost any eBook to open ePub format

My iPod Touch is also my eBook reader. I use the Stanza app (recently upgraded), and the Stanza desktop application to get pdf and other formats into my iPod Touch. But Stanza can’t read all formats, and occasionally an imported file will not display correctly — the layout gets messed up.

This is where 2epub.com comes in. This online eBook converter will take up to 5 eBooks of various formats (doc, epub, fb2, html, lit, lrf, mobi, odt, pdb, pdf, prc, rtf, txt) and convert them to ePub (or fb2, lit, lrf, mobi) format.

Then it’s a simple matter to share the file with Stanza, and send it to my iPod Touch.

I’ve only converted a couple of titles so far, but the output files have worked like a charm.

2ePub is a very cool and sophisticated application, utilizing a few ‘hidden’ backend applications — according to the developers:

2EPUB relies on various open source software, including Calibre, OpenOffice, AbiWord, Unoconv and pdftohtml.
2EPUB can convert only those documents that were, intentionally or not, made suitable for automatic conversion.
So now, when I get a new eBook (in whatever format) I’ll be running it through 2ePub first, to clean it up and make it more sharable with my variety of hardware platforms

On Books. Information objects of pulp, ink, leather and glue.

Lately I’ve been testing, reviewing and thinking about eBooks and eBook readers, which has got me to wondering about the value of a ‘real’ book, the dead-tree kind. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.


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