Thinking about e-Book devices for Christmas?

Christmas is looming large and I know there are many of you out there thinking about purchasing e-book devices. This is where we can help! Our OverDrive service is free for library members and contains over 10,000 e-book and downloadable audiobook titles just for you.

We also have a list of devices we know are compatible with the OverDrive service. So before you start shopping make sure your portable device is on the above list!

One of the more popular e-Readers are Kindles. The Kindle e-Reader from Amazon does not support Overdrive titles available from New Zealand libraries. It would prefer you to buy from Amazon. At the moment there is a trial programme in the United States between OverDrive and Amazon but it is unlikely to be available in New Zealand anytime soon.

On a positive note the Kindle Fire tablet is compatible with our collection.

So happy shopping this Christmas and feel free to pop into your local library to escape charging shoppers and Christmas music!

What I did on my holidays

It was my birthday last week (and don’t think I didn’t notice that you didn’t get me a present).  As a special treat, I was allowed to go away on holiday, AND young Mr Bronnypop Jr and Mrs Bronnypop’s Mum conspired to get me an e-reader. As a consequence, the night before we left town I spent an hour or so noodling around on the library’s Overdrive pages, finding and downloading five e-book titles to take away with me.

As with many things in life, the minute you get something you’ve wanted for ages, it all becomes a bit overwhelming.  I thought it would be an easy task to choose five books.  I was wrong.  The downloading itself was easy, and with only a few “oops, where did it go?” moments, I managed to figure out how to make the Overdrive and Adobe bits work.

Choosing the titles, though – good grief! Even after I narrowed things down – e-books rather than audio, titles that were available right then and there – there was still far too much to choose from. Eventually in a slightly blind panic I started randomly pushing buttons, thinking, well what’s the worst that can happen? Surely at least one or two of them will be readable …

Well, it seems I am either luckier or cleverer than I knew. Every book I chose turned out to be a winner, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my reading holiday. David Levithan’s Love is the Higher Law (New York in the days and weeks after 9/11, as seen through the eyes of three teenagers living right there); Calvin Trillin’s Eating with the Pilgrims (a hitherto undiscovered food writer – yay! witty and oh so clever); Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens (plane-load of teenage beauty pageant contestants crash on a mysterious island in the style of Lost and Lord of the Flies); Deadly Night – a lightweight but enjoyable horror/thriller set in New Orleans, featuring three hunky detective brothers, a beautiful psychic and a haunted Southern plantation; and as a final test of the e-reader’s particular special features, a silly little thing called Banana Hammock: A “Write your own Damn Story” Adventure.

Now I’m not saying that ALL of these were destined to feature in my Top Reads of 2012 lists, but the combination of being able to choose books while lying on the couch at home, not having to worry about how to fit them all into my suitcase, and then not even having to drag them all back to the library afterwards (or worry about overdue charges) makes my shiny new e-reader one of the best birthday presents ever.  If you have any kind of e-reader already, or even if you have a tablet or laptop, get yourself organised for Christmas holidays and have a good poke around in Overdrive.  If you’re just starting out, we’ve got heaps of helpful info on the website, and in the libraries, and if you get really stuck we even offer classes!

And for those of you who don’t yet have an e-reader, well, now you know what to ask Santa to bring you for Christmas …

“Should I stay or should I go?”

Book coverWhen The Clash wrote Should I stay or should I go in the 1980s, they did not intend it to refer to earthquake struck cities; nevertheless it would make a fitting anthem for Christchurch in these post-quake days. There’s so much coming and going, and to quote The Clash:

If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double.

A library is the perfect place to bear witness to these great migrations of people. In a single day in any one library, you could meet up with The Stayers, The Goers and the Inbetweeners.

The many new arrivals to Christchurch come from all over the world. This week alone I have met (and this to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas): three from New Guinea, two Irish builders, one English rose. The latter had arrived a mere three hours earlier and had come straight from the airport to Central Library Peterborough to use the internet and take out books on tramping around Christchurch and Kiwi cooking. I’m grouping them with The Stayers because that’s what I hope they will do.

Some people have thought it all through and decided it is time to go – usually to The Land of Oz. Not the whole country mind, just the bits on the edge like The Sunshine Coast and Western Australia. Oz might as well not have a middle as far as most Goers are concerned; it’s all about the sunshine, the salaries and the surf. Actually, put like that it does sound great, but I do hope they’ve been told about Capital Gains Tax and the possible effect of migration on pensions. If you’ve decided to move on, the library has heaps of resources to help you, like Living and Working in Australia.

What with all this moving around, there is bound to be some fallout. And here it comes: the parents who have been left behind – The Inbetweeners – doomed to a life of both staying and going. They have lost their children and their grandchildren and instead have been gifted iPads, Smart phones and e-readers. This is a huge technological hurdle for many of them. But they are so proud of their clever off-spring who have landed lives in Australia and talk of how it is only a matter of a few hours’ flying time to meet up again. I smile, because I do that already and am now best friends with a pair of flight socks. They ask if we can help them with all their new gadgets. And, yes, we can. Several libraries around the network offer drop-in computer classes tailored specifically to this group. Just phone 03-941-7923 and our wonderful Fingertip staff will help you out. Alternatively, check our Classes and Events calendar.

But moving around isn’t about age really. Eileen Hall was 93 when she sang Should I Stay or Should I Go in the film Young@Heart. Have a listen, it’s great. And if she could get up on a stage and belt that out at 93, who is to say that The Inbetweeners wouldn’t make a great go of it in Woolloomooloo (or wherever)?

Up in the air

What should I read on this flight?

After you’ve watched Air New Zealand’s “Stretch And Slide” safety video for the umpteenth time, you are faced with many long hours before the joys of Heathrow are yours to behold. What else is there to do, but conduct an independent survey of  your fellow passengers’ reading material?

Given the number of library customers we’ve helped with their e-readers over the past few months, I expected to see heaps of heads bent over little back-lit screens, and it is true that people were playing games on iPads. But  when it came to actual reading, people had chosen books (at least that was true in Economy Class; heaven knows what  goes on behind the little curtain in Business and First!)

Here’s the lowdown from on high of some of the books that were being read on my flights:

There were others, but their titles were concealed and I stopped short of riffling through sleeping passengers’ seat pockets. That would be creepy. To my surprise, I saw no magazines, but a couple of passengers were messily doing battle with newspapers in their teeny tiny allotted spaces. You just have to ask: why, why, why?

What really took me aback though, was that I saw only three e-readers in use on the whole trip. I have no idea what books were being displayed on them and that’s the one thing I really dislike about e-readers: even though reading has always been a private activity, I love the potential connection afforded by an exposed book title. In fact, in my younger days I fantasised about the perfect pick-up line, one in which a handsome stranger invites me for a coffee/wine on the strength of the book title he has just seen me reading. Using an e-reader would scupper that one for sure.

I’ve only read three of the books that my fellow travellers chose. So what do you think, did they do well?  What would you recommend as plane reading fare? And, when you next travel, can you keep an eye on what your fellow passengers are up to (reading-wise, that is)? I’m all up in the air over this one!