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Free library books online

Posted on Sunday, December 5, 2010 in Books, Other

Since I found out that library books are available as free downloads here in Sweden, I’ve wanted to try. For various reasons, I’d really prefer not to have to go to the library and pick up actual books (though when it comes to buying new copies at the book store, it’s the other way around.)

Anyway, last night I decided to have a go. I did a search for a couple of mysteries I’ve wanted to read, but not felt able to buy – a combination of lack of money and doubts about the quality of those books – and found five titles. I thought ‘Great!’.

Most of the books were supposedly available in several different formats, including mobi and epub. I’d read that you could download the books from your computer to a portable device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, any kind of e-book reader…). That’s interesting, even though I don’t own any such device, not personally. However, it was soon evident that all those symbols next to the title didn’t mean a thing. Adobe Digital Edition was the only software that worked. It gets worse.

I typed in my library card number and borrowed the first book on my list. So far, so good. I checked that I could at least open it on the computer and I could. Then I went on to the next two books and unfortunately, I got them in the reverse order of publication. When I’d finished the download of book nr 2 in the series, I get an error message saying I can only download three books in a seven day period. Three? I looked over the download window and the file where the books were saved. No. Just two. But the site was convinced. I’d already downloaded my three books. Since I refuse to read book 2 in a series before book 1, for all intents and purposes, I only got one book out of the whole frustrating experience. Three books might have been enough for seven days, one definitely isn’t.

Then my sister tried to transfer the book to her iPhone, just to see if it could be done and – to make a long story short – it couldn’t. Well, to be clear, it could be transferred, but then it couldn’t be opened. She went to check on the newspaper article where we’d found out about electronic book borrowing, and eventually found a couple of solutions that were supposedly going to work. Again, to make a long story short, neither of them did.

By that time, I was beginning to regret thinking of this idea in the first place, but at least I’ll now be able to read book three in a series where I’ve actually read books 1 and 2. And I’ll be able to try again in seven days time.

All this has also given me food for thought.

After our successful experiment with the Kindle, I had begun to plan ahead to a time when I’ll be able to afford an e-book reader and/or an iPod Touch or possibly an iPad. Now I’m wondering if I should bother. I love the Kindle. I’m sure I’d like the iPod Touch and the iPad, but would I actually have any real use for them?

I’m a book lover first and foremost even if I do love a shiny gadget, but the way I see it, I’d primarily be getting the e-book reader so I can download all those free books from Project Gutenberg and similar sites. I don’t see myself spending any money on new e-books. For one, they’re actually a lot more expensive than a paperback, and as far as I can understand, I won’t be able to read my free downloads on the Kindle. Secondly,  in my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of holding a ‘real’, printed paper book in my hands.

I could get an iPod Touch when my old iPods (very old) stop working, which might be relatively soon, judging by the time it takes to charge them and how long they last before the next charge. But if I can’t even read my library books on it, maybe it won’t be worth it. As it happens, I really prefer listening to something with better sound quality. I’m not into taking all kinds of gadgets along when I go out. It’s just not worth it.

Maybe I should just be grateful I’m leaning towards an option that will save me a lot of money, but somehow that doesn’t seem very cheering. At this time I could really use some cheering up.

Oh, well, I should probably just wait and see. For all I know, my financial situation could change in the near future and then I could take the whole thing under consideration again.

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