Monday, February 22, 2010

Adobe Digital Reader and OverDrive

My local public library allows you to take out electronic books now, using both OverDrive and NetLibrary. I've downloaded both onto my laptop and this weekend started my first ebook using Adobe Digital Reader. My thoughts:

At first it looks like you only have two choices for font size, but multiple clicks on each tab will increase and decrease several times, so you can make as big or small (even to having both pages on a small screen) as you like. A plus.

The page numbers of the original, in this case a mass market paperback, are included on each page, regardless of how large your font is. Big plus! Book groups can reference a particular passage by page, not by chapter. I don't see why this is a problem, but it's the one downside to the Kindle (I anticipate Amazon fixing that very fast). Also, another big plus is a running page tally on top (75 out of 204, for example). I like to know how far into a book  I am. Again, the Kindle doesn't do this within the text (it does provide a graphic on the front menu page, but not actual page numbers), but I think that will be an easy app someone will design this year.

Chapter headings are hyperlinked so you can jump to a chapter from a window that lists all of them if you are reading multiple books at the same time, or want to go back to a particular chapter. I can't figure out how to collapse the window with chapter listings on the left side of the screen so that text is maximized, but that's okay. Otherwise, like the Kindle, it will automatically open to where you ended if you don't close the book. I haven't used the bookmark option yet so can't tell you how well it works.

I'm reading on a laptop. If you're not using an ebook reader that can operate with OverDrive, reading is not comfortable. I tried to prop the laptop on my lap and get comfortable, but it's not easy with a regular-sized laptop (and a small cat who insists on sitting on your lap when you read). Would be even worse on a desktop. Big minus. Selecting an ereader that has an OverDrive app is one option, but I'm not happy with that selection for various reasons. Also, you use the arrows to turn pages (right and down arrows advance, left and up arrows go back). Don't accidentally hit the return button--it closes the program and goes to the Internet to the Adobe Digital Editions home page. Ask me how I know. I reflexively hit return about 5 times during the first hour of reading.

My eyes did get slightly tired as I tend not to blink when reading or working on a monitor, something I don't notice not doing with a regular book. The eInk technology might therefore make a big difference if you're an avid reader.

Big plus--being able to get online, peruse the library offerings, and receive it without having to drive to the library. Great option for home bound or people on a gas budget. Minor minus--it took 4 days for the ebook to be available to me, so somehow there is a limited number of digital editions that can be checked out.


  1. Sent your blog post (copied and pasted, NOT via link!) to our e-book director and my manager - we are just starting to sell e-books; I have one account interested in about $1700 worth soon...

  2. I really think publishing needs to step up to the plate here. They seem to be hiding their heads in the sand. Digital reading is not going to go away; nor will paper books go away (at least not for the foreseeable future; price is a definite issue here for large segments of the population). All the research I've done in preparation for buying my Kindle is that people read more with ebooks. And for publishing, that's a boon--increasing sales. I can't lend my ebook to you to read, like I could with my paperback, thus depriving them of additional sales on the same book. You have to buy your own copy of the ebook. Voila--two ebooks sold at $10 each instead of one passed on to you, than maybe by you to your SIL, and from her to her daughter...

    And so many people commented that since an ebook was only $4 or $5 or $10, their impulse purchases were far more numerous.

    And large print books, at $35 or more each? Forget it. We have a lot of trouble finding LP books for Mom out here. The library has an eclectic selection, and the used bookstore will sell them but not buy them back. But for boomers and seniors, ebooks are a godsend.

    I know you hate them, but I think the two technologies can coexist. And publishing companies can still be relevant and profitable, but they need to take the bull by the horns. Or what happened to the music industry will happen to them. Yes, I worry about bookstores, but since most of them seem to like to incorporate coffee shops and music now anyway, why not expand into a quasi-community center, with pc stations to peruse national and international libraries, game rooms for checkers and chess, hosting book groups, etc. I really hate the idea of bookstores disappearing, too, and don't want that to happen. But someone more innovative than me will hopefully apply themselves to that problem.

    As for textbooks, I can't wait until the technology and availability are there. I can't, in all good conscience, make my students buy the $100 textbook I'd prefer to use (they're non-majors and will never use the book again), but if it were available digitally for $45? No problem. And so much easier to update to reflect new data and findings.

  3. You can close the left side navigation panel in DE two ways.
    1. click on the "arrow" button on the edge of the panle
    2. open the "Reading" menu (the only menu there is) and click on "Hide Navigation Pane".

    To open it again, click on the little arrow button on the far left edge, or go back to that menu which will now say "Show Navigation Pane".

    Also note that you can click-drag on the right edge of that panel to make it any width you please.