Friday, July 10, 2009

Free E-books and Audiobooks from Public Libraries

I always like to highlight services, products, or posts that demonstrate how public libraries provide e-books and e-audiobooks to the public. As time passes by, I believe that there will be two sets of devices coming, those that work with public libraries to provide free e-content, and those that do not. Those that do will work with services like Overdrive and will understand that people still want to check out books for free. Those that do not will include products like the Kindle in which all their services are locked down and you need to pay to play (even for some free content).

One thing I have to say about books and reading. Not everything is online and not everything is in digital format. The only books that are freely available online (without having to go through a public library) are classics that are assigned in high school that most people hated then. There are very few places to get current, free, good books online and a public library is the biggest one.

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz ZafonImage by ai.dan via Flickr
The Sony Reader can download free content from any number of sources. In particular, you can get the latest best-sellers for free from public libraries that use Overdrive. On another point, you can now begin to use iPods to collection content from there as well. As of July 1, iPods will work with almost all of overdrive content. It actually treats the audiobook download like an audiobook as opposed to the content provided like an album. (For instance, I downloaded the Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein and it is an MP3 broken into an album of 15 parts, all with 1 hour segments. If I played a song the last time I listened to the audiobook, it lost my place, very annoying. ) I just downloaded The Angel's Game by Zafon and it has it broken down like an audiobook on my iPod. Instead of one hour segments only, it has them in one hour segments and then broken down into 3-5 minute increment. That way, if I stop the book, I can easily find my place again, but then I don't have to, it remembers it for me.

E-books in libraries are the best way to combat any piracy. That's the next big issue of online content. I also think it is ironic that Scribd will start selling e-books when that was one of the biggest book piracy sites available (not of their own doing of course). Many of the book piracy sites are going away now that more attention has been paid. Prior to researching the topic, I didn't realize that most of the books available through these sites didn't exist digitally before. There was no deal with the author or publisher; they were illegal. I think a lot of this can be stopped if more current e-books are available online through public libraries. They are the only medium that currently provides free content that is legal. I just hope that isn't taken away in the digital age.
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1 comment:

Josh - Free Audio Books said...

Wow I never even knew about Overdrive. Good post Jeff. Looks like this will help libraries move forward into the technical age.