Digital Media and Public Libraries

I’m a pretty avid consumer of digital media, as I am sure my Faithful Readers know.  I listen to audiobooks when I’m doing housework, and I often read books in a digital format.  This could get expensive if I were to buy these materials all the time.  While books in electronic format are often cheaper than the dead tree variety, they’re still not free.

I’ve always used public libraries to fill the gap between what I can afford to buy and my admittedly voracious reading habits.  However, I do have a slight preference for electronic media[1].

Living in the boondocks, my local library is probably less wealthy than most.  That doesn’t stop them from offering an electronic collection I can download right to my computer.  They use Overdrive as their media service.  It’s really wonderful.  I started using it when it became possible to transfer audiobooks to iPods.  From what I understand, Apple was pretty reluctant to allow for this[2].  However, I can now listen to audiobooks downloaded from my local library on my iPod, so that’s all good.

But you can also download electronic texts.  The software used won’t transfer to a Kindle, though I expect if one waits for a year or two, that’ll change, just like it did with the iPod.  It will transfer to some other digital book devices.  However, I have a netbook, so as far as portability, I’m all good.

My library limits one to three electronic items checked out at a time.  These items have between a one and two week lending period.  This is a serious limitation, as you can’t manually check an item back in.  For me, that’s a pity, as it only takes two or three hours to read the average novel[3].  So, I have to wait until the lending period is over before I check something else out.  For audiobooks this is not such a big deal.  I might listen for a couple of hours a day while doing housework, cooking or going for walks.  Even so, the average audiobook I listen to is about ten to twelve hours long.  I don’t go through them nearly so fast.

Still, I can only complain so hard, as I’m delighted the service is available.  Yes, I do still read paper books, but I do so enjoy having a small library in my computer, too.

I don’t know how common electronic offerings are, but I’m assuming that since my little town does have the service, it can’t be but so uncommon.  I encourage anyone who uses their local library to check it out and find out.

[1] The last twenty or so books I’ve read have been in digital format.

[2] Which is another point against the company, and is causing me to consider against replacing my iPod with another when the one I own goes to the Digital Player Graveyard.

[3] Something like The Hunt for Red October did take considerably longer.  I’m fast, but let’s be real.

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