As an iPad owner, I've been enjoying my ebooks for the past half year. Today, I decided to test the waters of checking ebooks out from my public library, the Virginia Beach Public Library. From start to finish, the process took about 20 minutes, broken down as follows:
1) Download the OverDrive Media Console app (less than a minute)
2) Browse through available online books at the public library website (10 minutes). I find three that are promising: Ivy and Bean, by Annie Barrows; Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool; and Kraken, by China Mieville.
3) Attempt to check out all three books (less than a minute). Only Ivy and Bean is immediately available. I am placed on hold for the other two, even though each entry states there is one library copy and zero patrons waiting. I'm placed number one on the waiting list. Huh? Is the atom compiler out of order and the internet fairies can't produce the digital copies?
3) Attempt to download the book, only to be told I need to sign in with an Adobe ID. Thinking I need to register for an account, I fill out the form and am told that I already have an Adobe ID. After trying to guess my password a few times, I give up and ask for an email to allow me to reset the password. The email arrives a few minutes later, I reset the password, and sign in. (7-8 minutes).
4) Actually download the book (15 seconds). Voila! I have Ivy and Bean on my iPad for the next 21 days.
So all in all, pretty painless. Based on the "Browse" function of their website, the Virginia Beach Public Library has 5373 nonfiction ebooks titles, and 1114 nonfiction titles available. In the areas I'm interested in, they have 352 juvenile titles, 213 young adult titles, and 485 science fiction and fantasy titles. Here's a screenshot of their home page (click to enlarge):
The two drawbacks I see so far are the potentially limited number of titles and the delayed gratification of having to wait for books on hold, especially when there doesn't seem to be any real reason for the holds. I just checked online, and both of the books are available in hard copies, one at my local branch 1.5 miles from my house, and another one that I could request and have at my local branch in 3-4 days. I requested it just to see which version I get first.
What's been your experience with ebook checkouts?
(For an update on my experience with the ebooks I checked out, see this post).