Getting Started with eBooks

ebooksTechnology is wonderful….when it works. EBooks are convenient, portable and a great way to take many tomes on vacation without having to check an extra bag at the airport. When things don’t work out, however, it can be surprisingly hard to get an actual human to help you figure out what has gone awry.

Here at the Everett Public Library we are trying to change that fact. This Saturday, September 14th, we will be having two drop-in sessions dedicated to connecting your eReader, tablet or smartphone to the Library’s eBook collection. One session will start at 10 am at the Main Library in the auditorium. The second will start at 1 pm and be at the Evergreen Branch meeting room.

During each 2 hour session there will be actual humans, not Cylons or replicants, to help you check out and download free eBooks from the library through OverDrive. There will even be instructions sheets that you will be able to take home with you.

In order to make the sessions more helpful to you, there are three things that you should consider before attending:

Remember to bring a valid Everett Library card, which is required to check out eBooks. If you don’t have a card yet, come visit us and get one today!

In order to download eBooks from the library, you need to have a device that is compatible with OverDrive. Check out the list of OverDrive-compatible devices to make sure yours is on the list.

Most devices will access eBooks by downloading them in Adobe ePub or Adobe PDF format, which requires the use of an Adobe ID. If you do not have an Adobe ID, you can easily create one with any active email account.

So come to the library this Saturday, and don’t forget to bring your eReader, and get that rarest of things in our technological world: hands on instruction from knowledgeable human beings.

Sherlockmania!

He is one of the most recognizable names in literature. Hundreds of pastiches by copious authors have been written about his character. Movie and TV series abound. Parodies aimed at all ages proliferate. And a multitude of quotes which never issued from his fictional lips are attributed to this British detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are undoubtedly brilliant, introducing (or at least popularizing) a new genre, a new style of detection. The hero is not a particularly likable or sympathetic chap, but his skills are remarkable. It’s no wonder that he has maintained such a high level of acclaim for more than a century.

Sherlock Holmes originally appeared in 4 novels and fifty-six short stories set between 1880 and 1914. His character apparently died in a story written in 1893 (but set in 1891), but fan outcry led to his resurrection in 1901 (in a story set in 1894).

Technology has changed since Holmes’s introduction and Everett Public Library carries Sherlock Holmes books on CD, eBooks and AudioEBooks in addition to plain ol’ books printed on paper.

Perhaps it is comforting to know that Sherlock’s adventures did not end with the death of Conan Doyle. Numerous authors, many alive today, have written stories about Holmes’s exploits during the same period that Conan Doyle chronicled.
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(The Italian Secretary is also available as an AudioEBook)

Other authors have dared to speculate on Holmes’s life after his apparent retirement.
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Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes titles by Laurie R. King are available as books, large print books, eBooks, books on CD, and AudioEbooks.)
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A Slight Trick of the Mind is also available as a book on CD)

In some cases, Holmes has even been thrown into the present, through a series of mysterious occurrences, of course.

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One can also find series aimed at young adults featuring Sherlock as a teenager.
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(Death Cloud is also available as a book on CD and AudioEBook)

One series, which focuses on the young boys who make up the Baker Street Irregulars, is aimed at younger readers.
Fall of the Amazing
(Set in the Victorian era)

Another format aimed at young adults and juveniles is graphic novelizations of Conan Doyle’s stories.
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Murray Shaw graphic novels
(These juvenile books include explanations of Holmes’s deductive reasoning and the clues that helped him arrive at a solution)

Perhaps the biggest buzz currently centered around the famous detective is the BBC series Sherlock. This take on Holmes has him living in present-day London, not a man somehow removed from Victorian times but simply a brilliant investigator born near the close of the 20th century. This ingenious show delivers unto us a Holmes who has all of the 21st century’s miraculous technology at his fingertips. The stories are based in the Conan Doyle canon, but include abundant updating and fast-paced dering-do.
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And when you finish this superlative series, be sure to look into some of the other big and small screen depictions of England’s most brilliant detective.
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And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, there’s always Agatha Christie

Ron

How to Check Out an eBook

In my last post, I highlighted all the great eBooks the library owns. I know. You’re saying, “Ron, Everett Public Library has a fine collection of eBooks, but I don’t know the first thing about checking out no stinking eBooks. I’m apprehensive!” Well, apprehend no more. Read on and assuage your baseless fears.

Start with the Everett Public Library home page. In the middle-top area of the page you will see this picture.
Ebooks on epls webpage 
Click on it to start your eBook journey.

One of the regions on the next page is dedicated to OverDrive, a website that allows you to check out eBooks with your Everett Public Library card.
Overdrive on epls
If you have any questions, don’t know what kind of format your reader requires or how to download a book, click on the HELP button.

Overdrive help
Each link here takes you to a helpful topic. Because it’s HELP.

If you want to dig right in and look at titles, skip the HELP button and click on Go to the library’s OverDrive Collection.
Go to the librarys overdrive collection

Here you will see headings such as May We Recommend with pictures of selected titles.

May we recommend

Click on a book to find out more about it.

Overdrive first page book display

This eBook entry is similar to any entry you’d see in the EPL catalog, with one important difference being Format Information. If you are unsure what format you need, go back to the HELP button for … help. Once a format is ascertained, if you want to check out this item then click on add to cart. At this point you can check out the single item or continue to add more items to your cart before checking out. It’s the library equivalent of on-line shopping. For now, let’s add this book to our shopping cart.

My cart
The shopping cart shows what items are in it and allows you to remove an item, continue browsing to add more items, or proceed to checkout to finish.

But before checking out you have to sign in.

Log in to check out

Signing in takes you to the Check Out page.

Checkout

At the Check Out page you can choose how long you want to check an item out (7, 14 or 21 days), remove an item from your cart, and finally check out.  You also are told how many more eBooks you can check out to your account. To complete the process, click on Confirm Check Out. The next step to take varies depending on which format you’ve chosen. Refer to HELP if you have questions.

There are many more details to learn about eBooks and their checkout, but the best way to learn is to give it a try and ask questions. Our staff is happy to answer you in person, by phone, or by email. Also, don’t forget about the hands on Getting Started with eBooks program happening this Saturday, January 12th.

So dig in and enjoy. You may not like this manner of reading, but then again it might turn out to be the best thing since sliced motherboard.

Ron

EBooks at the Everett Public Library

EBooks are a relatively new thing in the history of written stuff. Sure, there were clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, and hand-copied books for eons back in the mists of time, but even mass-produced printed books have been around for nearly 600 years. EBooks are scarcely a zygote.

In spite of this newbie status, the amount of titles available in this infant electronic format is increasing dramatically as the number of e-readers and tablets proliferate. And this trend will continue until the next technology comes along.

I am no Luddite, and in fact have worked on the slightly techy side of computers, but I did not see myself as a potential eBook reader. I like books, holding them, turning pages. Conversely, I don’t particularly enjoy staring at computer screens. But as free eBooks became available in libraries, I was lured by the siren call of near-infinite storage in something the size of a slim paperback. No more vacations with backpacks full of books! No more wondering if the pantry should be filled with food or overflowing stacks of books!

Initially, I feared that the library would carry only best-seller eBooks rather than titles suited to my quirky tastes. However, after thoroughly exploring the catalog, I can state unequivocally that this is not the case.  Everett Public Library currently has over 3,000 electronic books including fiction in all genres, kid’s books, young-adult, and non-fiction ranging from history to cooking to biographies.  Here are a few of the titles I founds while browsing for eBooks in the EPL catalogue.

 Lady cyclist
A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson
Historical fiction
Available as an eBook, book, large-print book, and audiodisc
In 1923, two sisters, one devout and the other not-so-much, journey to be missionaries on the ancient Silk Road.

Hedys folly
Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes
Biography, history
Available as an eBook, book, and audiodisc
Yes Virginia, Hedy Lamarr was an inventor who created the technology that became the basis for cell phones, Wi-Fi and other devices commonplace to modern life. This book tells of her adventures with inventing partner George Antheil, an avant-garde composer known to use airplanes and other machinery in his compositions. High on my to-read list.

The dead gentleman 
The Dead Gentleman by Matthew Cody
Juvenile fiction
Available only as an eBook
A hole through time, zombies, steampunk, a bad guy called the Dead Gentleman, and two kids from different eras attempting to save the world.

 Hawaii
Fodor’s 2012 Hawai’i
Travel guide
Available only as an eBook
 
billy the kid

Billy the Kid and the Vampyres of Vegas: A Lost Story from the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
YA Fiction, short story
Available only as an eBook
Billy the Kid, who is an immortal, and Scathach the Shadow join forces to defeat vampyres who control Las Vegas.

 Mirage
Mirage by Matt Ruff
Fiction
Available as an eBook and a book
Matt Ruff is one of my favorite authors, but I’d be the first to say that he’s not for everyone. His books tend toward the surreal, being full of twists and unlikely situations. Mirage takes the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers and turns it on its head, with Christian fundamentalist terrorists attacking the benevolent Muslim states.

Happy Healthy Monsters 
Happy Healthy Monsters:  Good Night, Tucked In Tight by Naomi Kleinberg
Children’s picture book
Available only as an eBook
Grover and Elmo teach toddlers and their parents the importance of ample sleep.

City of Ember
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Juvenile fiction
Available as an eBook, book, AudioEBook, audiodisc, playaway and DVD

The last refuge for humanity, the city of Ember, seems to be in peril. Lina and her friend Doon try to decipher an ancient message to save the city.

George F  
George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis
Biography, politics
Available as an eBook, book, and AudioEBook
A look at the work of this key figure who battled to help America survive the Cold War.

Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry’s Bedtime Stories by Richard Scarry
Children’s picture book
Available as an eBook and a book

Stay tuned for an informative post on how to check this great stuff out from the library. And don’t forget about our hands on eBook instruction session coming up on Saturday, January 12th.

Ron

Slow Cooking With Your Kindle

I’ve been exploring Everett Public’s Kindle holdings on Overdrive, which one can link to from our homepage. E-Readers have their detractors, but I enjoy the convenience of selecting a book at any hour of the day and being able to read it instantly. Also, it’s ideal for travel as it takes up almost no space in your carry on and you don’t run the risk of leaving your library book on the plane.

I recently purchased a slow cooker. It’s great because it doesn’t heat up the house or me on those hot summer days.

I wanted to expand my horizons beyond the cookbook that came with it, so I searched ‘slow cooker’ on Overdrive.  I found two titles: The Art of the Slow Cooker and The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook.

The Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss has, as the title page says, ’80 Exciting New recipes’. Some of Schloss’ recipes will probably be a bit overwhelming for novice slow cooks. However, his creations are quite impressive. He takes slow cooking to a gourmet level, beyond tossing a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting them cook all day. Most of the recipes are packed with ingredients and seem to be geared toward people who actually know how to cook, unlike myself. The recipes have prep times of between 5 and 45 minutes.

There are times when Schloss gets a bit pretentious. For example, his description of the ‘glory of curry’ in the recipe for Curried Vegetables and Dal: “The blend of aromas aerating your head and the cacophony of sensations titillating your throat are as complex as any food in existence.” I feel a bit light-headed after that description.

One dish I hope to try soon is a Corn Chowder with Jalapeno.  It is one of the easier dishes to prepare, with easily found ingredients. Apparently, the jalapeno is included to titillate rather than burn.  “Every bite should provide a tingle; every bowl should leave your lips with a characteristic jalapeno glow”, Schloss says.

The Art of the Slow Cooker is illustrated with photos of many of the dishes.  However, unless you have the Kindle Fire, which has a color display, you will see, for example, a rather unappetizing black and white photo of a bowl of corn chowder.

The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook by Rachel Rappaport is geared to a more general audience. It has 300 recipes for various occasions. The emphasis here seems to be on healthy meals with just a few minutes of prep time. Each recipe has nutritional information for a serving of that dish, something that The Art of the Slow Cooker lacked.

The book has 17 chapters including chapters with pork, beef, vegetarian, and vegan dishes. Chapter 6 covers one of my favorites, Chili.  There are 16 Chili recipes!

‘Secret Ingredient Beef Chili’ looks to be particularly delicious.  The ‘secret’ ingredient in the recipe is mango.  Rappaport says, “The mango melts into the chili and adds a fruity depth of flavor.”  The recipe serves 8 and it looks like a fairly nutritious dish with 200 calories per serving, just 3.5 grams of fat, sodium is 450 mg, carbs at 25 grams, 9 grams of fiber, and 19 grams of protein.

This book also has a chapter of breakfast recipes. With the slow cooker, one need never miss breakfast again. A number of the breakfast recipes in the book are started just before bed and are ready when you get up in the morning.

One of the best, in my opinion, is the ‘Ham and Egg Casserole’. It only has seven ingredients and can be ready for the slow cooker in about 5 minutes. One just pours a mixture of eggs, spices, cheddar cheese, chiles and ham into the cooker over two slices of sandwich bread. Set the cooker to low and cook for seven hours. When you wake up, breakfast is ready!  Just lift the casserole out of the cooker and slice it up on your cutting board. It serves six, and each serving has 140 calories and 11 grams of protein.

The Kindle won’t replace paper, but for convenience it can’t be beat. A search for cooking and food on Overdrive will bring up over twenty cookbooks. That’s a lot of books to carry out of the library, but with a Kindle or whatever eReader you might have, you can leave your book bag at home and carry those books with ease.

David

e-Reading in Everett

I have been wanting an e-reader ever since the debut of the Kindle in November 2007. After watching prices drop and much back and forth, I broke down and bought a Nook a few weeks ago, even though the prognosticators have sounded the death knell of the standalone e-reader with the rise of the iPad and its knockoffs. Why did I do this? Perhaps I was wooed by the e-Ink technology (no direct light shining in your eyes from the screen). I’ve read reports that it potentially disrupts sleep patterns to read from a lit screen prior to bed. Maybe e-readers using e-Ink will evolve into a low-tech Luddite response to the iPad? Who knows, but so far I love my e-reader.

Another reason that I bought a Nook instead of a Kindle is that it is compatible with the EPUB file format (the Sony Reader is compatible, too). eBooks are available through OverDrive, a global digital distributor that the Everett Public Library currently uses to deliver downloadable audiobook content.

If you’re thinking about getting an e-reader or just wondering how they compare, check out the Consumer Reports e-book reader ratings through the library’s E-Sources. (You’ll be prompted to log on with your library card and PIN.)

So, I’m wondering, dear readers of our blog, do you have an e-reader device? Would you check out eBooks from the library if we carried them? We’d love to know what e-reader you use if you have one. Please vote in our poll–even if you don’t own one (there’s a box for that, too)!

Brad