Libraries all over North America, Europe, and Australia are heavily invested in eBooks. Overdrive, 3M, Baker and Taylor, Recorded Books and many other companies all help facilitate newspapers, magazines, eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video. If you are thinking of buying a dedicated device to borrow free content from the library, what should you purchase?
A few years ago most libraries just loaned out eBooks in PDF, EPUB and Kindle friendly formats. This made a dedicated e-reader like the Kobo, Kindle, Nook or Sony a viable investment. Sadly, most of these companies have all axed built in speakers or a headphone jack. This results in them no longer being able to play audiobooks, which may be a deal breaker for some.
If you are thinking of doing business with the local library and don’t want to be limited by the type of content you can checkout, I would recommend a tablet. If money is not an issue, or if you can buy one secondhand, the iPad or iPad Mini is the best investment. Almost all libraries have dedicated apps which you can use to browse, checkout and read eBooks, magazines or newspapers you borrow. It is useful to all do this with a singular app, which makes it a simpler process.
The thing I like about an iPad, is that most libraries or companies like Overdrive have their flagship apps on it. Often, these apps have more functionality than their Android counterparts. Not that Android is a bad ecosystem, I just noticed the apps for Apple are a bit more polished. Developers who make iOS apps also update it more frequently, giving you new features sooner.
The problem with dedicated e-readers is that they don’t have apps. If you want to borrow books from the library, it is a complicated process. Often you have to browse the libraries website on your PC and then download the book. Often these books all have DRM, which means you have to procure Adobe Digital Editions. You have to register an account and input lots of billing information. You can then transfer the books to your reader via the USB cable. This is basically too complicated, but for the tech savvy or the voracious reader, gives the best overall reading experience.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.