Random Penguin House… Hook Me Up!

ebooks for libraries

As of Monday, July 1, 2013, publishers Penguin and Random House have officially merged into one entity to now be known as Penguin Random House (I personally would have preferred Random Penguin House, but they didn’t ask my opinion). According to The Associated Press, this merger “creates the world’s largest publisher of consumer books.” The former chairman and CEO of Random House, Markus Dohle, will be the CEO of Penguin Random House. In a statement on July 1st, Dohle stated, “Together we will give our authors unprecedented resources to help them reach global audiences – and we will provide readers with unparalleled diversity and choice for future reading. Connecting authors and readers is, and will be, at the heart of all we strive to accomplish together.”

What does this mean to me? One thing – more eBooks at the library. Out of the Big Six publishers (now to be the Big Five), only three publishing houses have made their entire eBook catalogs available to libraries for purchase – and Random House happened to be one of these publishers. Currently, eBooks published by Penguin are subject to ridiculous restrictions: titles purchased before February, 2012 are still available through libraries that use the Overdrive eBook platform, but new titles and bestsellers are available only to a limited number of libraries through a pilot program with two somewhat uncommon eBook platforms.

Is it possible that this merger means Random House will exercise its influence upon Penguin to make its eBooks more readily available to libraries? Oh, I certainly hope so! The cold shoulder publishers have shown libraries in the past regarding eBooks has long been a point of contention for library staffers and patrons alike. Historically, publishers have supposedly been concerned about the financial side of things, and the sales they might be losing by allowing eBooks to be loaned out instead of requiring them to only be available via purchase. This is a ridiculous claim, however, when statistics have long shown that library users are much more apt to purchase books or books from a series that they originally discovered within a library. There is no reason for this to be any different with eBooks.

I truly hope that Markus Dohle is ready to put his money where his mouth is and bring Penguin Random House into the future (present?) of eBooks as a major media platform. We love our Kindles, our Nooks, and our other eReaders. And now that tablets are so commonplace, as well as the many eReader apps for smartphones, no one is immune to the ease and accessibility of eBooks. This novelty idea that so many thought would fade is only getting bigger and bigger, and it’s not going to go away. Publishing houses’ only option is to move forward with readers and give us what we need and want – and for many of us, that is more access to eBooks at the library. Give it up, Big Guys – it’s long past time.

My Favorite Bookish iPhone Apps

Last Fall, my little brother bought me an iPhone 4. Well, technically, it was a free phone offer so he didn’t pay for it, but it’s the thought that counts. I’d previously been a BlackBerry girl down to the core but when I was introduced to the bright and shiny world of iPhone Apps, that all fell by the wayside. There are so many apps to make my life easier! Over the last few months, I’ve discovered several that are designed specifically for book lovers such as myself. Here are a few of my favorites:

goodreads 1. Goodreads: I use Goodreads online, and the Goodreads App for iPhone is pretty useful. I can view updates, update my own status, view and edit my bookshelves, view friends’ bookshelves, and search for and request friends. A really great feature is the ability to scan books, via my iPhone camera, onto my Goodreads bookshelves. If you have a ton of books you want to add for insurance purposes, or even just one library book you don’t feel like typing in, all you have to do is scan the ISBN and BAM! There it is, in your Goodreads account. Fabulous! This app also has the ability to locate any literary events that are taking place based on your GPS location. Nice! Thanks, Goodreads… – The Goodreads App for iPhone is FREE in the iPhone App Store

kindle 2. Kindle: I have my beloved Kindle Paperwhite, but sometimes I just have to put it aside to charge it or – gasp! – I forget it at home. It’s all good, though, because I have the Kindle App for iPhone on my side. From the cloud, I can download any Kindle book I’ve ever purchased or any library books I’m currently borrowing. As long as the wi-fi on my actual Kindle is activated, the two devices will sync to the last page that I read. Love that feature! The Kindle App for iPhone ensures that no matter where I go, I always have ALL THE BOOKS with me. This would be the equivalent of what The Boy calls his blankies (yes, he has more than one blankey – we’re all about the OCD in the Pathologically Literate Household). – The Kindle App for iPhone is FREE in the iPhone App Store

bluefire 3. Bluefire: The Bluefire Reader for iPhone is an app I just discovered over the last week or so, and I’m so excited about it! Bluefire supports ePUB and PDF content and, most notably, it also supports Adobe Digital Editions encrypted ePUB DRM content. What this means to me is that I can now download my NetGalley ARC ePUBs to my iPhone to read via Bluefire instead of having to sit at my laptop for hours to read them. So awesome! Additionally, Bluefire will support ADE content for Google, Sony Reader, Diesel, ARE, and Kobo. You can also download and read library books via Bluefire (although the “official” library book app is Overdrive). Again, yay! There are certain ebooks at the library that are only in ePUB form so they’ve been unavailable to me (can you say, The Aviator’s Wife?) but now – victory is mine! Bluefire, will you be my BFF? – The Bluefire App for iPhone is FREE in the iPhone App Store

LibraryBooksIcon3 4. LibraryBooks: LibraryBooks is a great app, with the potential to be even greater. Basically, it connects to your particular public library – you can connect to multiple libraries/accounts – and it will track what books, movies, CD’s and other media you have checked out and when they are due. You can set notifications to alert you ahead of time when your books are due. The app will also track what books you have reserved and where you are on the waiting list, and will alert you when they are available to you. All of this is fabulous and wonderful, right? Yes, indeed. My one complaint: LibraryBooks does not encompass the digital library side of things. It does not track your ebooks – neither those that you’ve checked out nor those that you have reserved. So disappointing! Isn’t this supposed to be the digital age? C’mon, now, LibraryBooks – get with the program!! — The LibraryBooks App for iPhone is $2.99 in the iPhone App Store

audible 5. Audible: I am not myself a fan of audiobooks (you can read about this in an upcoming post). I did, however, recently purchase the audiobook version of The Hunger Games for The Boy to listen to, in the hopes that it will spur him on to read the actual book along with the rest of the trilogy. Our family computer is in the Family Room which means I would have to listen to it (annoying!) and I don’t like the idea of sharing my laptop, so he’ll be using the Audible App on my iPhone – far, far away in another room. Some of the features this app offers include the ability to transfer your books to your device via wi-fi, chapter navigation/bookmarking, and the ability to track your listening habits. – The Audible App for iPhone is FREE in the iPhone App Store

These are the five iPhone Apps that I either use the most, or love the most. I’m all about making life easier and these help me to do that. You should definitely check them out to see if they would be a good fit for you! But if they’re not, don’t worry – there are so many more bookish apps in the App Store to suit anyone’s fancy. In the end, it all comes down to what helps you do what you need to do in the easiest way possible. Head over to the iPhone App Store today!

Do you have an iDevice? What are your favorite bookish apps?

101 Reasons I Love My Kindle Paperwhite

paperwhite.jpgI’ve mentioned previously how crucial my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has become to my reading life. I use this thing for hours, most days. I use it every day, though, no matter what. There are so many things I love about my Kindle, and while I probably could live up to the title of this post and tell you 101 reasons, I’m going to let you off the hook by only giving you ten…

1.  It is clean.

I’ve shared my issues with the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of library books and my OCD tendencies. My Kindle has solved these issues for the time being. It is clean. It has only been used by me. If it does become soiled, I can clean it myself and restore it to it’s original, pristine condition.

2.  It Glows. Like Magic.

While the Kindle Paperwhite does have an e-Ink display, it is also lit from within, allowing me to read wherever I am. Outside at high noon with the brightly shining sun? No problem. In bed, with the lights out? Smooth sailing. The display is always clear, crisp and easy as pie to read. Perfect for these aging eyes.

3.  It is compact/portable.

If you are a Reader, you most likely bring a book with you everywhere you go. If you are an OCD Reader, you make sure to bring an Emergency Book as well. This makes for a very heavy purse! My Kindle Paperwhite stands at roughly 7 x 5 inches, is .36 inches thick, and weighs less than eight ounces. This is a HUGE difference in the room it takes up when I’m on the go, not to mention the weight it (doesn’t) put on my shoulder when I’m carrying it in my purse. And since you can load multiple books on your Kindle, I have multiple Emergency Books with me at all times!

4.  It is easy to hold.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting old, or what’s going on, but when I’m holding a heavy book in certain positions for too long a period of time, my hands start cramping up pretty badly. My Kindle is so light that this is not a problem. It’s also so much less bulky that it’s easier to hold in certain positions, such as when I’m laying in bed.

5.  It tracks my reading pace and place.

My Kindle saves my page every time – it never loses it. And we’re not talking short-term, here, either, people. I borrowed a Kindle book from the library, returned it without finishing it, checked it out again two months later, and when I opened the book it opened to the exact page I had left off at. I like. The best part, though, is the way it tracks my reading pace. The Kindle Paperwhite will measure how long it takes you to finish each page and calculate how long it will take you to finish each chapter individually as well as the book as a whole. This was a trigger for my OCD at first; I was in a constant race with the Kindle’s timer – I had to beat the predicted time and woe be to the person who interrupted me and caused me to turn the page even one second too late… I’ve settled down quite a bit now and remember to freak out about the time race only occasionally.

6.  It has a Magical case.

I love my Kindle case! It is a black Poetic slim case; I bought it on Amazon for $8.75 and despite the low price it is super-sturdy. Here is the Magic part: when I open and close it, my Kindle turns on and off on it’s own. I know! Magic! Actually, I’m told it’s magnets. But I prefer to call it Magic.

7.  It has a long battery life.

The Kindle Paperwhite is advertised as having a battery life as long as 30 days. Now, this is if you only read 30 minutes per day. I read for hours a day, so I have to charge mine more often that that. Still, I can get away with charging it only every five to seven days. For as much as I use it, that’s fairly impressive.

8.  It syncs with the Kindle App on other devices.

I’ve loaded the Kindle App onto my iPhone and to The Boy’s iPad. That way, if I (gasp!) forget my Kindle at home, or if it’s charging, I can still read. Also, I can get books for The Boy to read on his iPad. The great thing about this is that no matter what device I’m using, my place in the book I’m reading will have been saved just as if I were on my Kindle.

9.  It has a built in Dictionary.

I love the built-in dictionary on my Kindle. When I come across a word I’m unfamiliar with, all I have to do is tap on it and the definition will pop up! Very handy.

10.  It has sentimental value.

My Kindle Paperwhite was given to me by someone very close to me, who loves me enough to celebrate my love for reading in such a thoughtful way. Every time I pick it up to use it, I think of her and of how lucky I am to have had her – and her family – in my life over the last seventeen years.

Do you use an e-Reader? Are you thinking about using one? What are your pros and cons about it?

Book Binge – April, 2013

Yes, people, I realize it’s May. So I’m a little late to the game. But I had to tell you about all of the free books I got for my Kindle during the month of April. Amazon often has great deals on Kindle books and if you keep your eyes open you can score some great content. Now, there are several sites and newsletters that showcase these deals, and I will highlight several of them for you in a future post. The books I share with you today were all purchased via BookGorilla, an e-newsletter for free/cheap Kindle books, or with free Amazon gift cards that I earned through Swagbucks. Swagbucks is an online rewards program that allows users to earn digital dollars which are then redeemed for real-life select merchandise or gift cards – again, future post (aren’t you sick of hearing that?). I tend to use the SwagBucks that I personally earn exclusively for Amazon gift cards, which I in turn use exclusively for Kindle content – it’s the only way I can afford to buy books these days…

Oh, I’m so excited about some of these books! I’ve been wanting to read some of them so badly, and they haven’t been available through the library. Squeee! A few of them are books I’ve read previously, but at a price of free or nearly so, decided to add to my Kindle library. Check out these great titles:

*Indicates books that have been previously read

Ninety-nine cents, people. $0.99! That is how much I paid out-of-pocket for all of these books. With a combination of great deals found via Book Gorilla (as well as my own savvy shopping skills, I might add) and many free Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks, I paid absolutely no cash for the remainder of these great reads. How can you pass that up? Check out BookGorilla.com and Swagbucks.com today!

The Kindle I Never Knew I Always Wanted

paperwhite I’ve always been a major “book purist”. When e-readers became all the rage, particularly when the Amazon Kindle was introduced, I was one of the biggest whiners about how I needed to feel the heft of an actual book in my hands, the rasp of the paper between my fingers as I turned the pages, the smell of the ink – well, you get the idea. For me, an e-reader simply was not an option. So when I began having some OCD/germ issues with my library books last Fall and Winter, using an e-reader never even crossed my mind.

If you use the public library, I’m sure you’ve come across a book or three with little souvenirs inside: crumbs, stains, hairs, etc. While this has always disgusted me, last Fall, when I found several short, greasy hairs between the pages of Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult, it triggered my OCD tendencies and all of a sudden, library books became a Big Issue for me. Now, I read several books each week, and I count on the library for nearly all of my reading material, so this posed a huge problem. I had to read, but I cringed my way through each and every book… it became so stressful. I didn’t tell anyone about the problems I was having; I didn’t want them to think I was any stranger than they already thought I was…

Then, salvation! Christmas 2012 came, and my best friend called me and told me she had left a gift for me on my porch… It was an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. The sun was shining down on it and angels were singing. I instantly knew that this, this was the answer to my troubles! How did she know?! It was obviously Divine Intervention… I haven’t looked back since. I use my Kindle Paperwhite all day, every day. I take it everywhere I go (Keys? Check. Phone? Check. Kindle? Check!). Actually, I have not read a physical book since receiving my Kindle; it has been e-books all the way. It would be a major life catastrophe if something happened to it. (In a future post, I’ll talk about all of the ways I access Kindle books for free or close to it.)

I know that I will have to confront my OCD issues with library books. I’m a strong supporter of public libraries, and I also don’t want to let something like this take over my life forever. But I now have time to work on these issues without sacrificing my love for reading. A life without reading is a poor life indeed, but thanks to my beloved Kindle I can continue to bask in the richness and magic of books.

How important is reading in your life? What are your thoughts on using an e-reader?