October isn’t really ebook appreciation month, but I’m sick of posts about horror books.
A lot of people talk shit about ebooks, but I think they’re great. I’ve been reading them since I got my first ereader in 2010, but I borrowed my first library ebook just a few months ago. Now, I almost always have a library ebook on the go. It’s a great way to try out a new author or genre, or sample an award’s longlist. Hot books from a season or two ago are easily accessed, and even new titles come up pretty quickly. I’ve even borrowed books I own in print, so I could easily count the number of times certain words appeared. It’s handy!
Commercial ebooks are expensive (up to $15.99 – $21.99 for new titles) and trading epubs with friends is sketchy. Here are my tips on ereading for free.
How to borrow an ebook
Borrowing ebooks from the library is hard, especially if you are An Old like me. I tried following the instructions on my library’s website, but got hung up with an error in Adobe Digital Editions. I waited months before swallowing my pride and asking a librarian for help. She helped me find an older version of ADE that worked, and I was off to the races within minutes.
Even when it works, the process is pretty clunky. Your library or device may vary, but you’ll probably need to follow a process like this to borrow an ebook and read it on an ereader:
- On a laptop or computer, go to your library’s website, sign in, and find yourself an ebook
- Download an epub file
- Open the epub file in Adobe Digital Editions (if it doesn’t work, try downloading an older version)
- Connect ereader to computer
- Move the epub from the computer to the ereader.
If you can’t figure it out: ask a librarian! I can’t stress this enough, people.
Advanced topics in ebooks
I figured out the basic borrowing process, but I still had questions. I followed my own advice and talked to a librarian. Thank you to Edmonton Public Library’s Pam Ryan for filling me in.
Why do libraries limit how many people can borrow an ebook at the same time?
Blame publishers! Pam said that “publishers set the limits and public libraries do their best to provide the best service we can within those restrictions.” EPL tries to maintain the some number of digital copies as paper copies, but it’s often much faster to get an ebook of a hot new release, I find. If you’re interested in how libraries are trying to make ebooks more accessible, check out Fair Pricing For Libraries.
Why is is so hard to borrow an ebook?
The Digital Rights Management layer (like Adobe Digital Editions) is what makes ebook borrowing such a pain in the ass, and prevents it from being seamless. But right now, it’s the only way libraries can lock down the access and control borrowing periods, as required by publishers. It is getting better though – even I figured it out! Eventually!
Do authors get royalties from library ebooks, like they do with print books? (in Canada, anyway – through the Public Lending Right)
Not yet, but they will as of 2016. So you’ll be supporting authors when you borrow from the library. It’s all good.
This post was inspired by One Book One Edmonton, one of those whole-town-readalongs. If you’re in Edmonton, you can read an ebook of Etta and Otto and Russell and James by hometown girl Emma Hooper for free, but the process is a little different than described here. Stay tuned for more about that, or start reading, the first section is up!
Has borrowing ebooks changed your life? How do you eread?