National Library Week: Library Extension for Chrome

Since it is #NationalLibraryWeek, we are focusing this week on ebooks and libraries. While I check sales every day and do have subscriptions to both Scribd and Kindle Unlimited, I still manage to find quite a few books that are not available through either service in the format that I want, at a price that I am willing to pay.

For the past few months, I have been using the Library Extension for Chrome to help me find Library books. It is hands down the best tool I have found for helping me to find books from the library.

Library Extension is an extension for the Chrome browser that allows you to see library books as you shop on sites like Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes and Noble. The extension currently supports over 3200 libraries that use the OverDrive and 3M Cloud systems. It is currently free and you do not need to register or sign up for an account.

Here’s how it works. Once you install the browser extension, you can go into options on your browser and set up the libraries you want it to check (and, yes, you can add more than one library!). You can also choose to check for either physical book or ebooks. Here’s what that screen looks like:

(All three libraries shown are from the Mobileread.com list of libraries that loan digital materials to non-residents in yesterday’s post. I am currently checking out the Fairfax library collection.)

After installation, when you are browsing for a supported site for books, you will see the books available from the libraries that you have selected. You can also click on the hold button and go right to the library page for the book and place a hold. Here’s a picture where I searched for Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train:

Note a couple of things in the picture above: If you have the extension set for ebooks, it will return results for both audiobooks and ebooks if the library has both. Also note that one of the results that comes up for the Brooklyn Public Library is Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train / Summary. Because of the way the OverDrive System works, the extension may also show results for similar titles.

If you have your extension set for ebooks and a book is not available at your library, you will see a message that says that the book is not available as an ebook. This is message will also come up for Amazon exclusives like this month’s Beach Lawyer by Avery Duff or books that are in the Kindle Unlimited program.

If you get too many “This title does not appear to be available as an ebook” results for books that you know are available in your public library, you may have encountered a bug or a catalog change and should contact Library Extension’s support team. The team is absolutely fantastic at responding quickly and resolving issues!

Here are a few of the things I do that may help you get more out of the browser extension:

  • I create wishlists for each library I use. This allows me to put a book on a list for a particular library so that I can easily find it later when I am read to read it.
  • I also use the extension to compare the number of copies available at each library to see which library is likely to have the shorter hold time.
  • I check libraries to see if they have an entire series before I start reading, It is a great tool for checking if all the books in the series are available before you commit to the series.
  • I have also added libraries that I am interested in to the extension as a way to see if they have enough of the titles I am interested in before I pay an out-of-area fee. It is a way to “try before you buy”.

Library extension is currently available only for Chrome. A Firefox version is under development. For more information, you can visit libraryextension.com.

Have you tried Library Extension? What did you think?

National Library Week: The shifting landscape of the digital library

Given the high prices of e-books, the ability to borrow digital materials is a lifesaver, particularly for those on a budget. There are many sites which offer free editions of public domain books, but other than a paid subscription service, for newer books, public libraries are the easiest way to read without paying the high prices publishers are demanding for newer ebooks.

Since library borrows of ebooks are up, it would seem like ebook readers agree. In 2016 alone, OverDrive, one of the leading distributors of digital materials to libraries, announced a total of  196 million borrows worldwide. According to OverDrive, there were 49 libraries surpassed over 1 million borrows each. However since there are a number of digital distributors to libraries, that also means that’s there is not one central source (that I could find, anyway) that has recent numbers for total digital borrows from libraries.

While the ability to borrow ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies and more from the library without leaving your house is definitely convenient, one of the unfortunate realities is that, for a number of reasons, all library experiences are not identical.Depending on your library, their vendors, your preferred device and format choices (Mobi or ePub, audiobook or ebook), the digital library experience can vary considerably.

There are number of library distributors who distribute digital materials to libraries. OverDrive is probably one of the biggest and best known to many patrons, but there are others like 3M cloud and Axis 360. Some, like Hoopla, offer a mixed variety of digital content.There are also a number of vendors that specialize in specific types of content (such as One Click digital for audiobooks, Freegal for music, Zinio and Flipster  for magazines).

Different libraries may use different vendors and/or combination of vendors. That means each library may offer a unique combination of materials and services.

Cost is usually a huge factor in which services libraries offer. For ebooks, publishers charge libraries more than they do individuals to license materials. The pricing structure also varies from service to service. Services like OverDrive use the One Copy/One User lending model. The library can only loan out a finite number of ebooks at one time, depending on how many licenses they have purchased for a particular title.

It is becoming increasingly common to hear stories about libraries changing distributors in order to try to keep cost down. Just this week, the Auburn, Alabama Public Library announced that it is moving from Overdrive to 3M Cloud. Because it is affiliated with book publishers, 3M Cloud offers its services at lower price than OverDrive. The problem is that 3M Cloud content does not work with e-ink Kindles, leaving Kindle readers out in the cold unless they read on their Fire tablet.

Unlike OverDrive, Hoopla allows for simultaneous usage, meaning patrons do not have to wait for a popular title. Because of cost, however, most libraries have a limit on how many Hoopla items can be checked out in a given month. As this article on the CLEVNET library consortium in Ohio  shows, some libraries have had to reduce the number of items available to patrons because of the costs. Like 3M Clud, Hoopla only works on phones and tablets, not on e-ink devices like the Kindle.

The bottom line is, the amount of money available to your library system will determine what your library can offer on the digital front. The best resource for checking what your local library offers is their website. Most libraries list their digital services on their website.

While more ebooks than ever are being offered by local libraries, I still get email from people frustrated that their library does not have a large enough selection of ebooks or titles in a particular genre. While services like the Digital Public Library of America, The Internet Archive and the Open Library have come a long way towards making material available, we are still a long way away from a true national digital public library that can be accessed by everyone.

If you happen to live in a district that either has a small ebook selection or not enough titles in the genres you prefer to read, you may have some options. You may want to check with your library to see if they have reciprocal privileges with other libraries in the county or the state where you live. There are some libraries that offer non-resident cards online or via email for a fee. (There is a list here on Mobileread.com.) The Free Library of Philadelphia and the Brooklyn Public Library are both popular with avid ebook readers and the fee for each is a modest $50.

I personally have cards at both The Free Library of Philadelphia and the Brooklyn Public Library. My local library has very limited options for digital materials. The city library has reciprocal privileges with our county library, but those privileges don’t include access to the county’s fantastic selection of digital materials and even paid out-of-area cards there do not include digital lending . My only choice for a wider selection is to pay for a card somewhere else.

So how about you? What’s your experience been borrowing ebooks from your library?

As we continue #NationalLibraryWeek discussions, tomorrow, we’ll discuss tools for library reading strategies. 🙂

It is National Library Week!

This week, April 9-15, is National Library Week. This year’s theme is Libraries Transform. The theme celebrates the shifting focus of libraries. The modern library is no longer just about having books, periodicals, or music music available for patrons; modern libraries are increasingly more about doing things for and with people and a greater role as a community shared space.

The official hashtags for the week are #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform. There are also official “I Love Libraries” accounts to follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Just a few of the highlight events for the National Library Week:

Monday, April 10, 2017, the Top Ten List of Most Challenged Books for 2016 will be released in the ALA 2017 State of America’s Library Report.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 is National Library Workers Day, a day to celebrate the contributions of library workers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 is National Bookmobile Day. The days celebrates bookmobiles and the community outreach done by the awesome professionals who work with bookmobile programs.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 is Take Action for Libraries Day. Libraries will be asking for help to save federal funding for libraries.

During the entire week, there is also an Expert in the Library Promotion. Give a shout out on social media and let the world know what your librarian is an expert in. Use the “hashtag #expertinthelibrary and  and post between Saturday, April 8 at noon CT and Saturday, April 15 at noon CT for a chance to win the $100 Visa gift card.” (More details here.)

You and find graphics, details and more information at the I Love Libraries and ALA websites.

Here on the Ebook Evangelist, we’ll be celebrating with a series of posts focusing on libraries and ebooks. 🙂

Daily Links: 90% of Public Libraries now lend e-books

From Digital Book World, American Library Association announces 90% of Public Libraries now lend e-books.

From a story in Publishers Weekly, Comixolgy to offer  DRM-free backup copies.

And a couple of e-book finds of the day from my TBR list in the Daily Deals: one of John Brunner’s fascinating SF titles, The Shockwave Rider, and, Midsummer Moon, a humoruous romance by Laura Kinsale (one with a hedgehog, no less!).

Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news.

The future of the library and the great content divide

As someone who tweets a great deal about public libraries, this article from TheDigitalShift, Ebook Strategy and Public Libraries: Slow Just Won’t Work Anymore,  speaks volumes.

The article addresses many of the important issues at the heart of the library ebook problem such as Overdrive’s monopoly and publisher’s refusals to sell ebooks because of fears of the library model. But it is the following paragraph which presents a truly terrifying scenario:

The perfect storm formula of a monopolistic environment and the actions (or more accurately, the deliberate inaction) of publishers have resulted in the creation of a significant shift in public policy in this country. After more than 100 years of public libraries circulating materials to users, we are no longer able to provide access to critical content that now exists in digital form. As a result, two very distinct scenarios are emerging in the communities we serve. Affluent users in prosperous neighborhoods have universal broadband access, numerous ebook hosting devices, and a credit card with the disposable income to acquire whatever content they want. Low-income residents in poorer neighborhoods do not have this sequence of resources and run the risk of not being able to access digital content that will allow them to fairly participate, compete and contribute to the digital economy/world. This content divide goes against the very principles that attracted so many of us to this profession –supporting democracy by providing access to information in the broadest possible context.

The issues so succinctly raised in this article are ones that all of us, as a society, should be very, very concerned about.There is much more in the full article, including suggestions about how to work towards a solution. If you care about public libraries, this is a must read article!

News Bits and Bytes for February 9, 2012

Lots of news happening today:

Reports are saying that E-ink revenues are down for the month of January. A lot. However, downloads of digital media jumped in 2011. 

A big shake-up in the library lending world today. Penguin is terminating their agreement with Overdrive to supply library books. With Harper Collins still only offering libraries the crippleware 26 loan contract for books, Random House is essentially the only Big Six supplier of library books. If you pay attention to the subtext in the article about the meeting between publishers and the American Library Association, this should not come as too much of a surprise, unfortunately.

If you have been following the reaction to Amazon’s foray into the publishing world, the responses are still coming in. Today, Indie Commerce joins Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Indigo in boycotting Amazon titles. Interestingly, this article from Paid Content says they’re not – well not exactly, that is.

Mike Shatzkin has a very thoughtful take on the Amazon vs Barnes & Noble saga that I highly recommend reading!

And finally, from  Evo Terra (Podiobooks) and Jeff Moriarty’s “It Isn’t Rocket Surgery” broadcast, a rather extreme point of view on the quality of self-published ebooks on Amazon.com. Here’s the video: