20 November 2010

Reading Library eBooks on iPhone

There have  been a few posts lately about the iphone app Bluefire Reader which enables reading of DRM protected ebooks.

The Distant Librarian reminded me of these posts so I decided to try it out with my public library’s Overdrive collection. I’ve previously written about my experience with this collection and the Overdrive application which only provides access to audiobooks. It seems that Bluefire has stolen a march on it, although it might not be far behind. More on that later.

Bluefire Ebook reader for iPhoneThe first scenario I tried was checking out and downloading an ePub book on my netbook and then using Dropbox to transfer it to the iPhone. This worked easily enough, however I found that because I had already opened it on the netbook using Adobe Digital Editions I could not open it with Bluefire even though it was with the same Adobe account. According to the Bluefire user guide this could be due to a publisher restriction. Another title, this time saved straight to Dropbox without opening and I was soon reading a loaned book on the phone.

The Distant Librarian reported that only audiobooks were browseable in Safari on the iPhone for his library’s collection. I had the same experience with the Gold Coast Library’s Overdrive collection. Trying to get epub format books via Safari on the iPhone was the second scenario.

UPDATE: There’s a comment on the Distant Librarian’s post explaining how to tweak the URL to get both audio and ebooks in Safari.

Bluefire is easy to use, similar user experience to Stanza, but does not have the share options for posting snippets to email or social networks.

According to this video, the Overdrive app will soon (December 2010) include functionality for ebooks in addition to audiobooks. Presumably the mobile site viewed in Safari will then also show ebooks too.

Both Overdrive and Bluefire applications are free.