Sony Reader 101: Borrowing Public Library eBooks

This is a companion post to Sony Reader 101: If You Insist On Buying One…

Most public libraries use a system from OverDrive. This presents a semi-standardized user interface across public libraries offering eBooks, so the steps below detailing borrowing an ePub eBook from the New York Public Library will be similar at other public libraries. Here I am using Firefox 2.x as my browser.

Sign into the system:

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As stated above, it requires the library card number and PIN you’ve supplied.

This is the entry screen shown at the NYPL site:

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Here I will be going straight to my Wish List. This is a list of books I want to borrow, based on my browsing all 450+ ePubs at the NYPL site. You will love your Wish List because the OverDrive system is frustrating!

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Above you can see the status of two eBooks I’ve highlighted. Request Item means that eBook is currently borrowed. Add to eList means that eBook is available for borrowing. I click on Add to eList and see this:

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Once an eBook is in the eList, it’s off-limits to others at the NYPL for 30 minutes. If I don’t borrow it within that time period, it’s erased from the eList for others to borrow. I can go back to browsing, but this is a primer, so I click Proceed to Checkout and see this:

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The NYPL offers three lending periods: 7, 14, or 21 days.

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Once I’ve set it for 21 days, I click Confirm Checkout to get this:

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If I’ve decided to borrow more than one eBook, this will be a list. NYPL offers a maximum of 12 eBooks at one time. Note: Each book will have its own Download button. That can mean clicking twelve Download buttons. There is no Download All option (yet?).

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The download dialog box will appear. Note the file is URLlink.acsm — every eBook will have that name. This is not the eBook! It’s a link to Adobe’s content server. The eBook resides there, not at the local library. And this is very important: Have your options set to open with Sony’s eBook Library software. If you Save to Disk, you’ll be all bollixed. If that happens, just hit the Download button again and select Open with eBook Library.

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The file — a small link — downloads in seconds and launches Sony’s eLibrary software:

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Above look at the left panel. Status is highlighted in yellow. As the eBook is being downloaded from Adobe’s server directly to the Sony software, those arrows will spin. Once complete …

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It will appear at the top of the list of eBooks. (Strangely, Sony’s software lists borrowed eBooks under a Purchased category, not Borrowed.) Double-clicking on it will open the eBook:

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Yes, some eBooks actually lack covers. It’s a scandal!

Once the eBook is in the Sony eLibrary software, sync the Sony Reader to copy it over.

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