Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thinking of Giving or Asking for an E-reader this Christmas? Here are some tips!

I wrote this post almost exactly one year ago, because I had a number of library patrons asking me about e-readers as gifts for the holidays.  It is important to like the e-reader you choose, and below are some things you should know before you make that purchase. 

Every year in the ads I see advertisements for inexpensive e-readers and tablets.  Do your research--sometimes you get what you pay for.  I have had so many people tell me that they wished that they had spent more and gotten one of the big name tablets, or e-readers.  My one piece of advice is go somewhere where you can play with the device and hold it in your hand--many stores have them out so you can see them and play with them.  If you only see it in the box, then perhaps you should move on.  If you are paying less than $100 for something they are calling a tablet be careful!  I have seen several of these inexpensive tablets frustrate owners.  

Last year, I received an iPad for Christmas and I couldn't be happier.  Sure even the iPad has its flaws, but it does almost everything I want it to do, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Still if it is out of your price range, look at the Nooks and Kindles.  My mother just got a new Nook HD with the bigger screen and I find myself drooling over her new device from time to time.  Apple, Amazon (Kindle), and Barnes and Noble (Nook), have put a lot of effort into their devices, and in my experience the devices from these three companies have been the easiest to deal with and the least buggy when we try to get library books for the devices.

I am not claiming to be an expert, and I am not paid by any of the companies to sell their products, I am just speaking from personal experience.  Hope this helps!


Originally Published as E-readers: Before You Buy Buying Tips on 11/30/2011

I can't believe that December is almost here!  This year is flying by.  Once again at our library's reference desk we are having concerned family members seeking our advice about which e-reader they should buy their loved ones for Christmas this year.  Being a librarian, I really have no vested interest in what readers you buy, but I do know what works with the library's Overdrive program, and the readers that are the easiest to use with Overdrive.  I am not trying to sell anyone anything. I have a nook and I love my nook, but I am also extremely impressed with the Kindle.  While I will focus on Kindle and Nook in this post, many of these questions will be relevant to any e-reader you are looking at.

Even if you are buying for yourself or someone else, these questions and tips will hopefully help you select which device will suit you or the person receiving the gift best.

E-reader Buying Tips and Questions to Ask Yourself:
  • Cheaper isn't always better.  There are a lot of cheap readers on the market, some of them are exceptional, while others are not.  Make sure you know you like the device you are buying because if you don't it wasn't really a bargain.
  • Where do you like to buy books?  Do you like buying books better from Amazon (Kindle) or from Barnes and Noble (Nook).  Whichever device you buy, you will be required to register your device with their website before you can buy books.  This means giving your credit card number to that company.  Your buying preferences figure heavily here keep this in mind when you choose your device--make sure you are comfortable buying from that company.
  • Go somewhere that has the device out where you can touch  it and play with it.  I can't emphasize this enough.  Even though there is no Barnes and Noble where I live, I can go to Books a Million and hold a Nook if I want to see how the device looks, feels, and works in person.  The same is true for Kindle.  Find local retailers that have the devices out where  you can touch them, read on them, and try to navigate on them.  Look for these things as you handle the device:
    • Weight and size.  Although most ereaders are around the same size and weight, there are subtle differences that can influence your decision.  Hold the device in your hand, does it feel comfortable to hold, or is it too bulky (my reader an original nook is kind of heavy, and sometimes makes me wish I had purchased a newer lighter one), do you like the size and and shape of the reader?
    • Read on it!  This is probably the most important tip I can give you.  Whatever one you choose you need to actually read on the device.  Read at least three pages on the device.  
      • Can you read it easily? 
      • Does the glare bother you? 
      • Do you prefer your screens to be backlit? 
      • Adjust the font type--does that make it easier to read?
      • Adjust the size?  Do you like how the font changes with size? 
    • Turn the pages.  This is another important one.  Some e-readers have a really slow page turn.  While some of you may think that is no big deal, let me tell you a slow page turn can be extremely frustrating when you are reading.  Think about finish a page and can't wait to see what happens next, but for some reason your e-reader is taking its own sweet time turning the page.  You are so excited you hit the button again and suddenly your e-reader flips ahead two pages.  Now you have to hit the back button and wait for it to flip back.  I am really not exaggerating here--I have seen this happen and have seen some very upset people trying to navigate on their readers.  Make sure the reader you choose is responsive.  By this I mean the e-reader turns your pages smoothly and quickly--you should not have to wait.  
  • Look for e-reader reviews! Not sure what you are looking for when you handle an e-reader?  If you do a google search, you can come up with a multitude of reviews from various sources.  If you are more traditional and prefer paper publications, you can find reviews from Consumer Reports and various electronics and computer magazines and journals.  You can also ask your friends if they have one what they like or dislike about their reader.  Make sure you are asking someone who actually uses the reader though!

The next part is some things you should consider if your library has Overdrive and you want to get free e-books from the library.

Getting Books From Your Library Through Overdrive:
Overdrive is a wonderful service, and I love getting free ebooks from my library.  Check with your library to see if they subscribe.  Each library has different lending rules--for ours we get the books for two weeks and then they stop working and we delete them off of our devices.  The one thing first time users, or anyone buying an e-reader, should know  is that how you download books from your library will vary from device to device.  If you are considering buying an e-reader, you should make sure that you are comfortable with how this will work for your device.  Most of this information will probably be available on Overdrive's website, or your library's, and if you have a Kindle you can find the information for you on  Here are some things you should know about how Nook and Kindle downloads differ (keep in mind I am not covering specifics here--for details ask your library):
  • Nook
    • Nook Color and the Nook Tablets now have an app that makes Overdrive so much easier to use.  Simply shop for the Overdrive Media Console in apps, download it for free, and then register your app with adobe.
    • If you have a nook that isn't a nook color or tablet (i.e. original nooks, or the simple touch) you need a computer to do the download.
    • You need to have Adobe Digital Editions downloaded to your computer.  Don't worry, Adobe is free, but you will have to register the software with Adobe and Authorize both your computer and your nook.  You only have to do this once, but set up can sometimes be daunting for people who aren't comfortable around computers.  Here is the link to Adobe Digital Editions for more info about the software.
    • You will search for books, check out books, and download the books to a computer before you will even touch your nook.
    • Once you download the book to your computer it should download it directly to Adobe Digital Editions.  Then you plug in your Nook.  Once your Nook appears on the Digital Editions page you click and drag the book to your Nook.  It really is as simple as clicking and dragging.  
    • You can delete the books (both library and purchased books--so be careful) off your device using Adobe Digital Editions, and you even have an option to return a book early using Adobe Digital Editions.  
    • When the book is on your Nook you will probably find it under My Files, or My Documents--my one wish is that Barnes and Noble would use consistent terminology, but alas no luck there.  Once you find it though you are ready to read.
  • Kindle
    • Kindle Fire owners now have an app that they can get for their Kindle Fire.  Just simply search for the Overdrive Media Console app.
    • If you don't have a Kindle Fire you need a computer to access Overdrive.
    • You will search for and check out books from a regular computer before you will do anything with a device.
    • Once you have found a book and checked it out, you will click on a button in your Overdrive account that says "Get for Kindle."  
    • At this point you will be redirected to the Amazon page where you will log in with your Amazon account.  
    • Follow the instructions, select the device you want the book delivered to, and then sync your Kindle.  
    • Some books will only transfer to your computer via the USB cord.  If you are checking out one of those books, follow the 3G instructions below.
    • If you have 3G you will need to download the book using your USB cord.  There are instructions for this on Amazon's website including a video, but here is the gist: Save the book to the external drive that your Kindle is on (:E or :F)  Once you save it, you will have to copy the title and paste it into the Kindle’s “documents” folder.  After you eject the Kindle from the external drive, the book should be on your Kindle.
    • For more details visit your library's website.
On the surface both sound complicated, but they really aren't that bad once you get used to it. I hope I am not scaring anyone away from library books from Overdrive. Just remember, talk to you librarians--they can help you with this. At my library we even have one on one trainings that you can schedule to learn how to get e-books from the library--ask your library if they do this.

The #1 thing to remember before you purchase an e-reader--test it out!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Adult Book Review: Justice Hall by Laurie R. King

Title:Justice Hall
Author: Laurie R. King
Genre: Adult Mystery
Publication Date: August 29, 2003
ISBN-13 Book: 9780553381719
Audiobook Publisher: Recorded Books (Audible Edition)
Length: 16 hours 28 minutes
Disclosure: I purchased my copy from audible.  This is my honest review!

Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6)
Justice Hall by Laurie R. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this series and this book did not disappoint. It started out more than a bit slow, as it did take us a while to find out what exactly the mystery was, but it was fun to reunite with characters from O Jerusalem. Something is wrong with the succession at Justice Hall. The current Duke longs to return to his nomadic life, but is bound by duty, while a killer lurks in the wings. I love Mary Russell who is both smart and strong. The addition of Iris to this novel, made it all the better for readers who enjoy strong female characters.

I purchased the audiobook from Audible. The unabridged recording was approximately 16 hours and 28 minutes, and published by Recorded Books. The audiobook is narrated by Jenny Sterling who does a superb job giving voice to the characters in this novel. The audiobook brought so much more life to the book than when I read it the first time, and I would definitely vote for giving this one a go on audio.

An enjoyable reading experience.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Life Since 10/12/12 And Some New Resolutions!

Busy Time at the Library
Fall is always one of my busiest seasons at work. First we have the annual book award committee meeting where we spend the whole day at a library arguing (we librarians tend to get a bit invested in our books) to see that our favorite books make the list for the following year. After the list is finalized it is hush hush until the big reveal at the ILF Annual Conference in November. While we all get the list of books in March, there is that inevitable rush at the end to cram in those last minute titles. During this time all of my reading is devoted to this committee, and trying to read as many of the books on the list as I can possibly manage.

After the committee meeting is over (actually before the committee meeting is over) I turn my attention to our annual One Book One Community project. October is usually the month when we are focusing on our one book, but the work starts months earlier. While I am not in charge of the program I am on the committee, and have to devote time to the project. This year I helped coordinate the essay contest that went along with the program.

While One Book One Community goes on, life at the library doesn't stand still. I have my regular teen programming and this year I added an additional aspect. My teens (please note this was a group of all boys) created Steampunk Notebooks this month while we discussed our mutual fascination with all things steampunk--one of the boys even brought his steampunk goggles, and boy did I have goggle envy. The additional aspect I added to my programming this year was the implementation of a Redesign a Book Cover Contest. We contacted the schools, the community art organizations, and a number of other art supporters to help us promote this program to our teens. The contest deadline was October 19th and we had 80 entries. We were amazed at the talent we saw.

The next program is the program that takes up the most time each year, and that is our annual Battle of the Books program. Each year I choose 10 books. Five of them new books and five of them books we have used in years past. Then I write 500 questions. 100 questions per book. Let me tell you this is time consuming and you better love the books you choose because you will be spending a lot of quality time with these books! On November 10th of this year teams from the area schools battled it out to prove who knew the books the best, and who would win the 2012 Battle of the Books Trophy. Surprisingly, the program ran like clockwork, and we were ahead of schedule all day. Why was this so surprising? Read on...

And Then I Got Sick
On my last post in October I mentioned I had been sick. Actually, I spent the entire month of October sick. I ran a fever for over 30 days before they finally figured out what was causing my bronchitis--a sinus infection. After 3 rounds of various antibiotics, and the equivalent of 3 rounds of prednisone, I found myself lacking any immune system at all. The Monday before Battle of the Books had me in the ER with a stomach virus, that dehydrated me so bad they had trouble getting a good blood draw and had to try multiple times to get in the IV. It all came down to not having any resistance to whatever virus I got--a consequence of all the antibiotics, which I had finished taking the previous morning. After the CAT scan came back (did I forget to mention that the day before I had suffered a head injury--yeah, I'm lucky like that) the doctor comes in and informs me that my head is just fine, but oh yeah--he can definitely see that I have a bad case of sinusitis--oh joy. Needless to say I still have my sinus infection because I am afraid more antibiotics too soon will have me laid up again. I don't think I will be able to wait much longer because I am afraid the fever will come back.

As I said, I am not sure how it all happened, or how I managed to get through it, but I am slowly recovering. The big programs for the year are over and I barely survived. I think next year, I am going to have to plan better, and find a way to stay healthy!

Reflections on Lessons Learned
All this hasn't left much time for reading, but has left me with a lot to think about. Sometimes I even came close to giving up the blog for good, but I believe that I need to keep blogging for myself and for my love of books. Yes I still love them, but I definitely need to pace myself. Sometimes when I find myself rushing through books, trying to beat deadlines, that I lose the enjoyment of the books, and so much of it becomes more like work. I need to find my enjoyment and love of reading again. This may mean that my reviews will be less frequent, but let me tell you they will be more true to myself and the works I read. I want to take time to savor and reflect on what I am reading. Last year I set a Goodreads goal to read 100 books and I did achieve that. This year I had planned to do the same, but after the year I have had, I have had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes it isn't meant to be.

I know it isn't the end of the year yet, but I think I am ready for some new resolutions. I need to start listening to myself and my body. I need to take time to savor and appreciate both the world around me and the literature I read. Most of all, I need to read for me.

What does this mean? First I am going to be a lot more selective about the review requests I take. I need to make sure it is one I want to read. I am also giving myself the okay to put down a book I don't enjoy. No offense intended, but not every book is right for everyone. I am giving myself permission to walk away from the books that don't hold my attention. It isn't a crime if I don't finish a book.

Next I think I am going to revisit my roots. I am going to go back and perhaps reread some of the books that stimulated my love of reading, so if you see some retro reviews in the future you are forewarned.

I am also going to actively seek out and pursue the books I want to read. How many times have I set aside books I really wanted to read because I had others that had deadlines waiting. Does this mean I will be doing fewer prepub titles? Probably, but I need to read for me. It probably also means that I may not be accepting as many review requests. Deadlines are killing me. I have them all the time at work, and this is something I do as a hobby, for fun. Lately the deadlines have been taking the fun out of it.

I needed time for reflection. What I got was a lot of sick time, but when you feel crappy, sometimes you have a lot of time to think. I have written this post a million times in my head, but what it comes down to is that I started this blog for me, and if it is going to be work, stress, and no fun, it is time to walk away. I am determined to make it fun and recapture my love of both reading and blogging. What will happen? Only time will tell...

If anyone has a good cure for a sinus infection, I am all ears! I don't want any more antibiotics! :)

Reviews to come.... :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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