9 May 2010

eBooks From My Library - the Experience

I’ve just been trying out the Overdrive ebook service from my local library. I’ve used this before with a PC and transfer to portable device method. This time I was interested to see that an iphone application was available to download directly to my iphone. I used this while connected to wifi at home – this would be an expensive business if done via the mobile phone network. So how did it turn out?

The Overdrive iPhone application takes care of the download and listening part of the exercise, but to find and check out the books I had to use a browser on the iPhone. The mobile site caters for more than just iPhones, which is OK, but I accidentally checked out a WMA instead of an MP3 book and of course the Overdrive application rejects the WMA when I try to download it.

Overdrive for iPhone

I also checked out an EPUB “text” book from the mobile site. But this is also not readable from the Overdrive application. To use that I have to go back to a computer, download Adobe Digital Editions and then download the book. That added in a whole other question about whether I wanted to register with Adobe, or be limited to using the book only on the one computer.

Eventually I go back to the browser on the iPhone and checkout the MP3 version of the book, and download it to my iPhone.

The process really requires the user to be completely au fait with their system limitations on the iPhone. Another issue I see with this is that the WMA book I mistakenly checked out is not available for someone else to use until my checkout expires. There is no way to ‘return’ books early if you don’t like them, or just made a mistake like I did. And as far as I can see I can’t extend the loans. It’s quite likely that I won’t finish listening to this in two week, so maybe I’ll have to download it again.

I’m going travelling soon.It would be cool to be able to download some books in preparation, but not start listening to them until during the trip.

As terrific as this collection/service is, there are still some barriers to users - especially newbies in the whole ebooks experience.

Overdrive for iPhone Overdrive for iPhone