A recent trip to Texas made me fall further in love with what I think was the best present I've ever received—an e-reader, specifically the Kindle Keyboard.
It's not the fanciest of the e-readers out there, but it does everything I want it to. Right now I have 15 books, the Oxford Dictionary of English, back issues of the New Yorker and assorted other publications on it.
During my trip, I was amazed at how many people are using e-readers, as opposed to iPads or even iPhones (my Kindle syncs what I'm reading to my iPhone Kindle app, so I don't have to miss a beat if I have a spare moment to read).
I sat next to a woman out of LaGuardia who had one of the Nook tablets. She said she did so much traveling that she couldn't imagine having to carry around dead-tree versions of all the books she's read.
And I know what some of you are thinking: You love the feel of a real book. Well, I do, too. I spent too many years designing books—making them look beautiful and feel good—to not love them.
But I was able to take 15 books with me to Texas, and the e-reader wouldn't weigh any more if there were double the number of titles in it.
One of the great things about e-readers now is that e-books are now available through many public libraries, including the .
I spoke recently with Library Director Tom Geoffino, who said, that besides the collection available through the Westchester Library System, his library would be starting its own e-book collection, thanks to funding from the New Rochelle Public Library Foundation and Friends of the Library.
Geoffino followed up with an e-mail with more information about e-books.
"I can't tell you it is absolutely easy [accessing e-books], but it becomes far easier given practice. Of course, young people generally navigate this effort with far more ease than many older folks (including myself in that category!)
"I really don't feel we need to convince people to utilize e-books as this market is self-driven. Honestly, libraries (including our library) are trying to keep up with the increased demand."
Geoffino also included a primer describing the process of finding and downloading e-books:
Go to the library's web page www.nrpl.org and scroll down the page until you see "Download Books, Audio & Video" in orange text on the lower right hand side. This will bring you to the Westchester Library System (WLS) Digital Media Catalog. You need a library card and know your PIN number which by default is the last four digits of the phone number the library has in your account.
If you are unaware of the process to download e-books and e-audiobooks, you can click on the "Help" tab and the various links can give you information on how to move forward. Also, the Mount Pleasant Public Library also has video tutorials that are very good. Go to www.mountpleasantlibrary.org and click on eResources and then tutorials for the videos. NRPL also offers a class once a month on how to download e-books to your device.
You can browse categories like New York Times Bestsellers, New Releases, Juvenile, Romance, Biography, or search for a specific title in the search box in the upper right hand corner.
As with print books, if someone else has already borrowed the e-book that you want, you will have to place a hold and get on a waiting list. You will receive an e-mail message stating that your book is available for download. You have three days to do so. If you do not, the e-bBook then becomes available or goes to the next person on the waiting list.
Because the Kindle uses special Amazon software, you will be looking for e-books where the format says Kindle. For other other devices like the iPad, the Nook, etc you need to select Adobe ePub or Adobe PDF. For an iPad, you need to down the OverDrive app and register it with an Adobe account which you can create for free at www.adobe.com. For the Nook, you have to download the Adobe Digital Editions software to your computer.
If you're wondering if the library will have e-book copies of every title in print, the answer is sadly no. Many older titles have not been converted and several book publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Macmillan do not sell e-books to libraries for lending. These titles will not be available for download.
Books can be checked out for one to two weeks. After the lending period is over, you can no longer open the e-book on your device.
For most devices you need the USB wire to transfer the e-book to your device. Kindle Fire and the iPad do not need a wire.
The company that WLS uses to provide e-books is called OverDrive. There are other companies such as 3M and Freereading that hitting the market now to compete with OverDrive.