Thursday, March 24, 2011

The iPad 2 as a Library eBook Reader

There are plenty of reviews about the iPad 2 as an eBook reader. But how does the iPad 2 rank as an ereader of library eBooks? Here's my take on it.

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Let's be honest, the price (starting at $500) removes the iPad as an option for many people. It's a lot of money to plunk down for an eBook reader -- and, frankly, even as an all-in-one entertainment and work device. You have to have a serious case of iPad lust to justify this purchase.

So let's say you do have a case of iPad lust and can afford it -- should you put your hopes into using the iPad as a library eBook reader? Yes. It makes a very good eBook reader.

Let's talk cons: 
  • There is a glare on the glossy screen in direct sunlight or lamplight. This is not the ereader to bring to the beach. Even sitting indoors in a sunbeam can be problematic. Has this stopped me from reading (as a passenger) in a car during the day or sitting on the couch next to a southern-facing window? No. I might have to adjust the angle, but it hasn't stopped me from enjoying my eBook. 
  • The battery life is great for a tablet, but if you are a heavy user or someone who pushes their email every 15 minutes, expect to charge it every day or two. The iPad doesn't hold a candle to dedicated E-Ink readers when it comes to battery life. Has this been a problem for me? Not at all. I typically charge devices regularly. 
  • I really thought the size of the device would be the killer. Do I wish it was smaller and lighter? Of course! Has the size stopped me from using it? A little. There are times (especially late at night in a dark room) when I reach for my iPod Touch instead of the larger, heavier, and brighter iPad. 
Now the pros: 
  • The page turns are perfection. When I first started using it I thought the pages weren't even turning since it worked so quickly. With E-Ink readers the page turns dark each time you "flip" the page. Even the newest version of the Kindle displays page turns this way. Some people really dislike this feature. If you are in this category you'll love the page turns on the iPad. 
  • The physical act of turning the pages is great, too. Better, in my opinion, than any of the other dedicated compatible eBook readers available (that I've tried to date). A light tap to the left or right of the screen is enough to turn the page. And what about holding the device in your left hand, how to turn the page? Surprisingly, using your left hand you can swipe your thumb right to left from the left side of the screen to turn the page. No complaints with the act of page turning. 
  • The backlit screen is both a pro and a con (the glare). However, since I read a lot in low-light settings (in the car on trips, while hubby is watching TV, etc.) this is a feature I really like. 
  • Even though the size of it is listed as a con, holding it for long-term reading isn't bad. I prop it on my lap or knees for couch reading as easily as a dedicated reader. Unlike a book it stays open to the page and requires little balancing. It's light enough that when my lapdog insists getting on my lap, I can carefully perch the iPad on her without feeling guilty. (No one call PETA; she's fine!) 

Reading with the OverDrive Media Console app: 

Reading with the OverDrive Media Console app (OMC) is nice. I have no complaints with the app for reading. The app offers good settings that are easy to find by tapping on the center of the iPad screen. The app, however, is missing one very important feature. It lacks an early return feature. You'll need to install Adobe Digital Editions on a Windows or Mac computer to return the eBooks early. EPUB eBooks can be returned directly from the OverDrive Media Console app.

Reading with the Kindle app:

The Kindle version of the books in our collection can be read on the iPad with the help of the Kindle app. You'll need to install the free app and authorize it with your Amazon account. Follow the Kindle instructions to learn how to check out a Kindle Books from our NHDB collection.

The mobile version of

I'm not a fan of the mobile version of the OverDrive site that iPad owners are restricted to using. The mobile site lacks a way to single out available EPUB titles. Recent updates has make it easy to see available EPUB and Kindle Books in our digital collection.

Getting eBooks on the iPad:

Without a doubt, the biggest plus to the iPad (and other Apple and Android devices) is the ability to download eBooks directly to the device from the mobile site. Here's my advice for an easier checkout and download process:
  • Follow these instructions to install the OMC app and authorize the device with your Adobe ID.
  • Browse for available eBook titles from a computer. It will allow you to easily see all available eBooks.
  • Check out the eBook from the computer. 
  • With the iPad, open Safari, and visit our site.
  • Log into the site. 
  • From "My Account" >> "Currently Checked Out Items" 
  • Click download. The app will open the eBook automatically. 
Another option is to checkout, download, save, and email the EPUB file to yourself to open with the OMC or the Bluefire Reader app. The benefit of sending the file to the Bluefire app is that it will allow for early returns directly from the iPad.

Happy reading on your iPad! Let us know if what you like and dislike about reading library eBooks on your iPad. 

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