E-Readers Now Available!

Did you know that the Whittemore Library not only has e-books available, but they also have three different e-readers available for checkout? Neither did I!

Yes, it’s true! And it’s one of the library’s most interesting secrets. Behind the circulation desk rests these three e-readers, available for checkout to any of the University’s students or affiliates. I recently had a chance to take one of these e-readers for a test drive, and will tell you my thoughts below.

The e-reader, to my surprise, was not of the more well known brands like Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Instead, it is a Sony e-reader, but that should not deter you. This one is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen, and also one of the heavier. This gives the e-reader itself a very sturdy quality that feels good in the hands. It doesn’t feel easily breakable, which is good, as library technology tends to take a beating over time.

The e-reader comes with a wall-charger and some directions to help get you started. Finding the power button was a little tricky, but after turning it on, everything was smooth sailing. The menus are clear and easily readable, though the touch screen isn’t quite as responsive to the touch of my finger as I would’ve liked. Thankfully, after a quick glance at the directions, I found a stylus hidden on the side of the device, and using that made the menus much more responsive. I recommend using the stylus at all times, both for the menus and to keep fingerprints off the screen.

There is a small learning curve that comes with every e-reader, and this often catches new readers off guard. When you turn the page, the screen has to refresh itself before the next page can be shown. During this refresh period, the screen quickly turns solid black, before loading the next set of text. This sounds intrusive, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, as the whole process takes less than a second. But it does require some getting used to at first, and can be quite distracting. Having had my own e-reader for close to a year, however, I can say that this doesn’t bother me at all.

Turning pages, however, took me a few tries to figure out. Since the screen itself is a touch screen, I assumed that to turn the page I would tap on the edges of the screen. Not so. You can turn the pages two ways. Either by swiping the stylus across the screen  right or left, or by pressing the buttons on the bottom of the device. I found the buttons to be a more reliable method of page-turning, as the swipe didn’t feel as responsive to me.

The e-reader comes preloaded with sixty-six full texts, all of which are “classics” available in the public domain. A student checking out the device cannot purchase or rent new texts, as that feature has been blocked. The librarian can add new texts to the device, and is always accepting requests. The books are all formatted properly, and read fine.

The e-reader does some have restrictions. It can only be checked out for two weeks, with a high late fee of $10 a day. It also cannot be renewed, and has to be back to the library with all parts in tact in order to be checked out again.

With that said, if you are looking for one specific book, it might be better to just get that book itself rather than e-reader, if nothing else than to avoid the chance of high-late fees. However, if you read books quickly, or are planning a trip, the e-reader would make a worthwhile option. It’s certainly a good device, works well, and offers a good selection of books. Just be careful of the late fees!

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