The other two eBook platforms – Askews and Wheelers

4391492We are very lucky at Christchurch City Libraries to be blessed with a trinity of eBook platforms. OverDrive, Askews and Wheelers all have their own individual characters and strong points. OverDrive with its sheer size tends to take the bulk of our eBook market. This is probably not surprising considering it is our largest, oldest (introduced 2008!), and most familiar platform.

If you love your eBooks like me then please don’t forget that there are other options apart from OverDrive. Like two scrawny kids on the sidelines wanting to prove their worth to you Askews and Wheelers are waiting for their chance …

  • Askews: Britannia’s eBook collection with assorted British titles, authors and publishers. These titles are best enjoyed with a cup of tea and cucumber sandwiches while watching the polo. If you get nervous around horses and don’t like cucumber then a random couch with potato chips is just as useful.
  • 9781927262511Wheelers: As Kiwi as Billy T and just as entertaining with its New Zealand focused content and authors. It includes hundreds of titles including the West coast based mystery and Booker Prize winner The Luminaries and Dan Carter talking all about himself. I mean where else are you going to find a title like The Great Weta Robbery?

Remember size is not everything and these smaller gems can reveal a new world of literary content. All you will need is a library card number and password/PIN and a willingness to go off the eBook beaten track.

Like a virgin

I am not at all a technophobe. I need wifi to live. I live a reasonable proportion of my life online. I feel naked without my phone being within arm’s reach.

And yet, until recently I had never read an ebook or listened to an downloadable audiobook.

Yes, I was a library digital download virgin.


Cover of Magpie HallI guess I just really like the heft and feel of a book in my hands. But, realising that it was actually a ridiculous thing for a web librarian to not have even tried digital library titles, and spurred on by our Community Read, I decided to give it a go and read New Zealand novel Magpie Hall on my phone.

And it wasn’t bad, actually. I thought I’d perhaps find the text too small, but I was pleasantly surprised. I chose to read in browser rather than download it. The  interface was uncluttered and the text smooth and screen-friendly. And though it was odd not to be able to see my progress via the turning of accumulated pages, Wheelers had thoughtfully included a percentage figure at the top right of my screen so I could tell when I was nearly halfway or approaching the end of the book. Nice.

Cover of The Fangirl's Guide to the GalaxyNext up, I downloaded an OverDrive audiobook (and detangled my long neglected earbuds). This format was also pretty easy to use if you get yourself the free app. Having never tried an audiobook before I found myself enjoying how the reader interpreted the prose. Because I was reading, sorry, listening to something that was quite humorous and lighthearted in tone (namely, The Fangirl’s Guide to The Galaxy – expect to see a review on this blog in the near future) it was nice to have that echoed in the delivery. It wasn’t all that different to the voice I hear in my head when I’m reading something myself, albeit with an American accent.

Cover of As You WishI’ve since discovered that some audiobooks are actually read by the author, like As You Wish, about the making of the movie The Princess Bride, a book that I read on paper when I COULD HAVE BEEN LETTING WESTLEY READ IT TO ME WITH HIS LOVELY POSH VOWELS, OMG! There are also audio cameos in As You Wish, including Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal. I’d be willing to wager that Billy Crystal does a better version of his voice than the version of it I did in my head.

Similarly, I would happily listen to Carrie Fisher read one of her books because, someone once described her voice as “sonorous” and I’d have to agree that it’s very listenable. I love hearing writers read their own work. You never have to worry that they’re misinterpreting it.

From talking to other people who have more experience with audiobooks, it seems that a lot of the enjoyment of a book in this format can come down to whether or not the voice of the person reading it to you is a good fit. Timbre, accent, speed and intonation, if they’re wrong or jarring to your ear, can have a distracting effect. So it’s pretty handy that our downloadable audiobooks have a short excerpt available, right there in the catalogue. Just click and listen to see if the voice of the reader suits you or not. Easy.

So on the whole, I’d have to say my first fumbling forays into downloadable library content have gone pretty well. I still do like the feeling of a physical book, but I’ll certainly not look down my nose at an eBook every now and again (especially when travelling).

Feel like being brave and giving digital downloads a go? Then you may be interested in the following info –

Updated:I totally forgot to mention that when I accidentally wiped all the data off my phone (don’t ask) and had to set it up from new, when I reloaded the OverDrive app it knew exactly where I’d got up to and asked if I’d like to start listening again from that point. Bloody clever!

Know thyself – New Zealand eBooks with Wheelers

KTT WheelersWhen I came back from London I remember sitting down to watch TV and laughing quietly to myself when there was an ad for chainsaws. It reminded me yet again that being a New Zealander is actually a thing – we do exist with our own culture and character. Why this should continue to be such a revelation to me was largely due to growing up and being told that I am “Irish, Scottish and English”. I can’t really remember being told I was a New Zealander until I actually went to Ireland, Scotland and England. They were under no illusion that I was one of theirs and I had the visa restrictions to prove it.

One way to absorb, enjoy and learn about New Zealand’s unique culture is through its fiction and non-fiction. This is where Wheelers comes in with eBook titles by New Zealanders or about New Zealand. We can learn to be better parents with psychologist Nigel Latta (a native of Oamaru), or contemplate the loss of life in the Tragedy at Pike River Mine by Rebecca Macfie. If it is escape we seek then we can lose ourselves in the historical fiction of Jenny Pattrick or Deborah Challinor.

While all Kiwi kids should know the names Mahy, Cowley and Lasenby.

Cover of Magpie HallWheelers continues to promote New Zealand authors with our Community Read making Magpie Hall by Rachael King universally available.

So regardless of your ancestral background if you have grown up in these shaky isles you will find stories familiar to your heart in Wheeler’s local content – a welcome reminder that we are New Zealanders and we are home.

Our eBook smorgasbord

With the popularity of OverDrive it is easy to forget two other gems in our eBook library crown – Askews and Wheelers. Now that people are increasingly comfortable with eBooks and the associated processes it is time to bring these two in from the shade and have a play! Let us have a look:

Askews eBooks

KTT Askews 1Askews is based in the UK, so has a wide range of fiction and nonfiction content with a focus on British content, titles and authors. Some of the titles are now no longer in print, so life has been breathed back into them by becoming an Askews eBook. There are nearly 3,000 fiction and nonfiction titles ranging from Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall to Joan Collins raving about her passionate life. Oh dear.

Wheelers eBooks

9781927147344This is our own eBook platform from Aotearoa New Zealand. Its strength is New Zealand content. From Margaret Mahy to Maori and New Zealand concerns and stories – you will find it all here in digital format just waiting for you to download.

Take time to explore these two. They look and contain eBook content that is different from their older and larger American big brother OverDrive. All you will need is your library card number and a password/PIN.

Advice on your eBook device

db-OverDrive-CKEY685249So it is nearly Christmas, which according to retailers actually started in October. In anticipation of rampant present buying I am getting in early with some “advice on your device”!

My advice is to do a bit of research if you want to use our three free eBook services! What? That’s right your library has three amazing eBook platforms which are spellbindingly good. They include:

  • OverDrive (20,000 eBooks and downloadable eAudiobooks),
  • Askews (British eBook content)
  • and Wheelers (NZ eBook content).

Our eBook platforms will pretty much work with any device – except Kindle eReaders which are designed by Amazon to work only with Amazons eBooks i.e. stuff you will have to pay for.

In the United States they are working on getting these two to talk but chances are this will not translate into changes in New Zealand any time soon. There is also the Kindle Fire tablet which does work with OverDrive – but if you want to keep it simple there are a multitude of tablets, eReaders and other portable devices that work just fine – buy those my peeps and avoid disappointment!

To help out we provide a list of approved devices from us and OverDrive.

Happy shopping.

Your new eBook trinity

Whoever said three is a crowd has not used our eBook resources! As of the 1st of August we have welcomed the arrival of Askews, a new British based eBook platform that intends to enthrall us all with its British based content that we have not be able to get elsewhere. To clarify our triple take on eBooks, we have:

OverDrive: Our first and largest eBook and eAudiobook collection which has a very American twang to its content;

Wheelers: As Kiwi as Billy T and just as entertaining with its New Zealand focused content;

Askews: Britannia’s eBook collection with assorted British titles, authors and publishers. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea and cucumber sandwiches while watching the polo.

Like all eBook platforms the idea is to find, download and enjoy. What is slightly different is that you cannot check in Askews eBooks early and you get to choose how many days you want to have the eBook out – as long as it is no longer than 21 days.

Have a gander at what Askews has to offer and see if you can expand your mind with the musings Gordon Ramsay or scare the stuffings out of yourself with Ruth Rendell.

Tally Ho chums!

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Introducing BWB Texts @ Your library

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BWB Texts offer a new form of reading for New Zealanders.

Commissioned by Bridget Williams Books as short digital-first works, BWB Texts unlock diverse stories, insights and analysis from the best of our past, present and future New Zealand writing. And they are now available at your library through our Wheelers Platform

Titles from Wheelers eBooks for you to behold

Our newest collection of eBooks is Wheelers. Here are some titles to feast your eyes on.

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We introduce a new eBook platform: Wheelers!

With the huge popularity of OverDrive we are now offering  another way for library members to access eBooks. Let me introduce the New Zealand based eBook platform Wheelers.

Why another platform you ask? Well, Wheelers point of difference is that its collection will focus more on New Zealand content from New Zealand writers and publishers. This growing collection contains both fiction and non fiction titles for adults, young adults and children.

Wheelers allows you to:

  • Download up to ten fiction and non-fiction titles from home at any time;
  • Checkout eBooks for 14 days;
  • Transfer eBook titles to your computer or portable devices such eBook readers and smart phones;
  • Avoid late fees — the items self expire. Some eBooks can be checked in early.

Wheelers is a separate platform so it does not  does not affect the amount of eBooks you can get from OverDrive. It is our aim at Christchurch City Libraries to present you with a smorgasbord of eBook opportunities. Have a look at the titles and check out a new eBook out today!