I suppose it was only a matter of time.
Since I spend my days editing an online-only news outlet, it was only natural that I'd eventually also ditch traditional books in favor of an e-reader.
This week, I became the proud owner of an Amazon Kindle.
I had some gift money left over from Christmas, so figured it'd be a good time to give the gadget a try. I got the $69 bare-boned version.
I like to read, but have always had affection for physical books. I grew up on them in shelves in my home. I like to browse bookstores in search of treasures. I enjoy taking books out of the library and also like grabbing used books for super-cheap.
Would the Kindle take away from that whole experience? I was reluctant, but could definitely see the advantage of having an e-reader. They're perfect for traveling, and there's no need to store books in my already cluttered house. Plus, I can buy or borrow them while at home in my pajamas, and receive them instantly.
So far, the experience has been enjoyable, and I have been generally pleased with the ability to borrow e-books from the Anne Arundel County Library System.
It's worth noting that the system for borrowing e-books is not entirely streamlined. If you go to the library system webpage, you must find the link marked "elibrary," and that will bring you a menu of choices. There are several places to borrow books, but the best choice appears to be the Maryland Digital Library Consortium. You can go also to the consortium directly by going to maryland.lib.overdrive.com
To borrow books, you'll need a library card number from one of the public library systems in the state. Each system purchases e-books just as it does hard copies; there are a limited number to go around.
While on some level it seems counterintuitive that there would be a limited number of "electronic" books, but that's the economics of it. Publishers still need to make money off the deal.
I searched for several books that were not immediately available. The latest George R.R. Martin book had more than 30 people waiting, and I will also have to wait to read the book from Dakota Meyer, the Marine who recently won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I did find a copy of The Alienist, a book of historical fiction that I've been meaning to read for some time. I simply clicked on a link marked "Borrow" and the book automatically downloaded to my Kindle via wi-fi. It was instantaneous and I was able to start reading within seconds.
I have 14 days to read the book and then it disappears from my Kindle. Easy peasy. [NOTE: I have since learned that you can select a borrowing period of 7, 14 or 21 days.]
It's not a perfect system. I wish there were more books available and I wish there were more copies of each title. But selection and availability are not issues exclusive to e-books.
Presumably, the selection of ebooks will increase as more people use e-readers and demand it.
The county library system is not shying away from the technology, and in fact has 200 e-readers (Kindles and Nooks) available for people to borrow. The e-readers have many popular titles pre-loaded on them.