My local library and Adobe Digital Editions: a decent combination!

May 8, 2013

I’ve started to get into the habit of checking the Hamilton Public Library catalog when there’s a book I’m interested in that I don’t have a copy of, (and that isn’t in the public domain,) because it’s a good way of trimming the budget for buying books. A few weeks ago, after Storywonk announced Sophie Kinsella’s “The Undomestic Goddess” as their Book Club pick for April, I hit the online catalog and was surprised to find that it was listed as a library ebook.

Now, I’ve wanted for a while to try checking an ebook out of the library, but had never found an ebook listed that I was actually interested in. So I took a closer look. There were two ebook copies in the Hamilton system, both checked out, but no outstanding holds, so I placed a hold of my own, and the website assured me that I’d get an email notification when a copy became available.

And I didn’t hear back for a while, to the point where I was starting to get worried that I was misreading the part where the website said “Library copies: 2” and there weren’t any ebooks at all. In the meantime, Storywonk Sunday went on hiatus and postponed the Book Club discussion to May 26th. Finally, Monday morning, I woke up and found out that there was a notification in my email that it was finally ready to check out, two and a half weeks after I placed the hold. These titles can be checked out for 1 to 3 weeks, (with no early return because there’s no way to make sure that every reading device has deactivated the authorization codes,) and I think it’s a bit odd that both copies were checked out just a few days before I searched, but I’m not complaining.

So far, I’m impressed with the process of borrowing and reading an ebook. The library offered 3 different borrowing option with this title: Read the rest of this entry »

Ebooks: Abandoned providers, DRM and fair use

February 21, 2013

It’s been a few weeks now since the Fictionwise and websites have been mothballed by Barnes & Noble, but I’ve been doing some ebook stuff recently and tried to access both of them without thinking. I remember getting warning emails back in November – US and UK customers were apparently offered the chance to roll their bookshelves over to the Barnes & Noble website, but for the rest of us, it was basically “Make sure you’ve downloaded backups of all your books, and have a nice life.”

It’s certainly not a great digital tragedy, but I’m disappointed to see those ebook providers disappear. used to be ‘Peanut press palm reader’, which was my intro into the world of electronic books, and they had a great, smart format that was supported by a wide range of devices. Fictionwise didn’t have a great selection of novels to my taste, but I was able to pick up some great short stories there, (as well as some interesting audio adaptations,) and I loved their ‘multi-format DRM free’ program, where you could download the story you purchased in any of 13 different popular formats, all of them without any copy protection mechanisms.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve downloaded copies in every format that I might have a use for, so the biggest immediate impact is that I can’t use the online bookshelf to access my books from my iPhone or android phone. With the iPhone, this is just an annoyance, because I can put up my book files on another website and access them that way. But the app for Android is just about useless now; the website was the only way to load books onto it, and I’d only loaded on one book so far.

But I’ve figured out another way to get those books onto my phone.

I don’t really have strong feelings one way or another on DRM; I don’t think of it as an offense against human rights the way a few people seem to, and I don’t hesitate to spend my money on DRM content; depending on my impression of the DRM system and how likely it seems that I’ll lose access to the file entirely, of course. On the other hand, I don’t really scruple about hedging my bets and using software tools to crack DRM protection when it seems to be in my best interests.

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