I will have more to post about ALA in the next few days (weeks, months?) but I thought I would change things up from the previous mad postings of recaps. For those of you who want some more ALA in the interim I have a copy of my notes from sessions I attended here (ALA 2012 session notes). I hope to post each session separately in the coming weeks as well as start exploring some of tools and suggested readings mentioned by the speakers. I will also be posting brief reviews of the ARCs I picked up in the exhibitor hall, so keep your eyes peeled for those.
Now, a break from professional development and on to something interesting. Despite having lived in Orange County for nearly three years I have kept my Los Angeles Public Library card in good standing, primarily so I could use their e-collection. I usually use Overdrive to access some audiobooks and books for my Kindle. Today, however when I went to the LAPL I accidently found myself on the Magic Wall for LAPL’s Axis 360 collection of e-books. This was very exciting, I had not seen this collection before and I was instantly intrigued and spent my morning break working through the logistics of downloading a book.
The actual download and check out process was not difficult. It did require reading software called Blio, which I was able to get as an ap on my iphone. As I waited for the ap to install, I started poking through the Blio page and came across the most exciting looking promotional video for reading software ever.
Seeing the animation, I fully expected some sort of added illustration elements to be added to any of the books with pictures. Perhaps not full blown movies, but I wanted the characters to say a line or wave if I tapped them with my finger or clicked on them with my mouse. But this was not to be. My downloaded Blio came with The legend of Sleepy Hallow and The tale of Peter Rabbit. Both books were nicely laid out, and in the case of Peter Rabbit illustrated in color. But beyond the animation of a page turning (which occasionally lead to a blank page being displayed) there was no added value in this format over another. I thought perhaps the default sample books perhaps weren’t as elaborate as another title might be, so I checked out The Superhero Book, imagining if this one did not warrant some explosions, nothing would. Still, nothing, a nice reproduction of a printed page but nothing to make it an e-book.
One nice added option is you can download a voice to read the book to you ($9.99). I have not downloaded any of the voices though I did sample each of the offerings. The options sound very mechanical and not like something I’d want to listen to for the length of an entire book, not to mention something I’d want to give up space on my phone for. I noted that when I went to look at the voices options it said that “2 of 3 books in your library may be read aloud by Text-to-speech voices.” All three of the book icons have the green headphone icon on the desktop so I don’t know if the limitation is on the library book because it’s a library book or if it’s the picture book that creates the limitation.
All in all I’m disappointed with the format, I don’t feel like it lives up to it’s “Don’t just read books. Experience them!” tag line. I looked at the book offerings on their for sale site and the prices are comparable to other e-book sellers. I am sad that this format won’t work with my current e-reader, I won’t be doing much reading on my phone (it eats through the battery).
On a related note, you may be interested in looking through the Libraries, patrons and e-books report put out by the Pew Research Center. I wonder how the format war will be affected by patrons like myself who have tried new formats and have found them to fall flat. I cannot keep a separate e-reader for every e-book database my library subscribes to (note I own a Kindle and a Nook, though the explanation is longer than I will go into here) though if someone wants to lend me their tablet so I can fully investigate Blio I’ll be happy to return it when I’m done playing.