The greatest thing of all about the Barnes and Noble Nook (at least in comparison to the Kindle) is that it allows its users to access digital files from their local library. As nice as it is to be able to tap into a mega bookstore with millions of books floating around, having access to a treasure trove of free books is infinitely better. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but without the satisfaction of being able to hold a newly owned, cut fresh from a tree, novel in my hand, I really have no incentive to buy books at all. Digital books to me are disposable, so why not just get them for free?
Well, there are a bunch of issues preventing Average Joe iPhone user from picking up his desired book from the library in a digital format. For starters, libraries are just getting into digital borrowing, which means that even the largest public libraries have limited copies to lend. Even worse is that the vast majority of digital books aren’t in ePub format, and ePub is the only format the iOS can handle. Also of distress is the fact that libraries put a limit on how many digital books they have available at any given time, which means that even though digital books are just a series of 0’s and 1’s, they come in limited quantity. If Joe Neighbor and everyone in his extended family wants to read the latest Dan Brown book, you’d be better off driving yourself to the library to get a physical copy.
But fear not faithful appers, libraries are diligently trying to catch up with the times. AllThingsD reports that the Washington D.C. public library system is adding troves of ePub formatted books weekly, and it is certain that other library systems will file suit. Most importantly though is that there is now an app dedicated on helping you navigate through the treacherous library waters. The app is not perfect, and will not magically put you in front of the Dan Brown digital line, but it will show you all the available books (and audio books) in your area and how many people are in front of you.
With a dash of patience and an ounce of understanding, you will soon enough be immersed in the magically free waters of the digital public library. Get your cards ready!