It’s summertime! As temperatures and humidity rise, workplaces slow down, schools close, and collectively we, the people of the Northern Hemisphere, breathe a huge sigh of relief–winter is over. Summer is family vacation season, time to visit a beach, lake or pool. Time to travel to a National or State Park or some other place where we put our hair down, swap makeup for sunscreen, and relax.
- 1 Ready for e-reading on iPad, iPhone
- 2 How to Read in a Digital World
- 3 The 20/20/20 Reading Rule
- 4 All My Favorite Reading Apps
- 5 Overdrive
- 6 3M Cloud Library
- 7 Kindle
- 8 iBooks
- 9 The Real Magic of iBooks; A World of Free Reading
- 10 Wrap Up
Ready for e-reading on iPad, iPhone
My absolute favorite summertime activity is reading, catching up on all those books I meant to read but never did. Grabbing my beach towel means also grabbing my book. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than sitting on the beach, umbrella above and book below while everyone else in the family plays in the water, always within sight. Summer reading is my nirvana or at least its nearest relative.
How to Read in a Digital World
For the past few years, I’ve swapped traditional paper books for my iPad, iPhone, or another e-reading device. I love paper books but in my quest to reduce how much our family lugs back and forth to the beach, I’ve opted to take my iPad instead. My iPad carries not only my books but also some for my partner, some for the kids, even a couple for Nonna and Nonno (grandma & grandpa.) We even download some videos for the kids, so when they get restless, we don’t hear the whine that they want to pack up just yet.
The trick to bringing your iPad with you is also to pack your pair(s) of polarized sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses help you see the screen clearly, reducing all those reflections that are such a bother on a sunny day. You may need to adjust the angle of the display to see best. Just turn the iPad to portrait or landscape and see which angle works best for iPad e-reading. I also recommend a beach umbrella or sitting under a lovely cool tree—this helps with iPad e-reading and keeps sunburn at bay.
The 20/20/20 Reading Rule
Outside of wearing polarized sunglasses and staying under the umbrella or tree, it’s a good idea to keep your eyes happy by giving them a break every 20 minutes or so. Best practice is to turn your focus away from what’s in front of you (the book.) Focus your sight on something in the distance, a minimum of 20 feet away. Hold that focus for at least 20 seconds and take a nice long breath.
Eye doctors call this the 20/20/20 rule. Following this helps keep your eyes moist and reduces eyestrain. Holding that 20 seconds seems easy, on paper, but it’s actually kind of hard. So what I do is I perform a count down in my head. I start at 30 because I have a tendency to think numbers too quickly. While I’m counting down, I shift my focus to different things in the distance and say the name of those things in my head. Doing this distracts me enough so I honestly give my eyes the break they need.
All My Favorite Reading Apps
In my years of iPad e-reading, I’ve tried quite a few reading apps and here are some of my favorites. I think some of these will become your favorites too!
So, let’s get to it!
This is by far my absolute favorite iPad e-reading app. It’s also the one that my local library supports, so I get to read my favorite authors and New-To-Me authors for no additional cost as part of my library membership. The downsides are that like a traditional paper book library loan, your eBook has a limited lifespan on your device (usually 14-28 days depending on your local library’s policy.) When the loan expires, the eBook is no longer accessible and if still unread or unfinished, you need to check it out again. Libraries also have a limited number of licenses for each book, so at times you’ll be put on a waiting list. This is particularly the case for the newest book releases. If you’re someone like me who has a lot of books of her wish list, a wait listing isn’t a problem. There are a lot of books available now, so I can afford to wait.
Once you provide Overdrive your library card membership number and PIN if applicable, you are routed to your library’s Overdrive Home Page. There you browse to find the books you want to check out or if not currently available place on a waiting list. Wish listing is available, so if you are interested in a book but not wanting to read it just yet, you place it in on your wish list. Audiobooks, movies, music, and other types of materials are available, depending on your library. Many libraries also feature content in different languages, catering to regional populations. Many neighborhood Overdrive library carries Spanish, Korean, and Chinese materials—I live in California so that makes sense.
Overdrive has an app available via the Apple app store. You have to set-up each library you are a member of with your membership number and PIN if applicable. But it’s a once and done kind of thing. And the Overdrive interface is very user-friendly, showing you all the libraries you are connected to. There are tabs for your Account, History, Settings, and Bookshelf. Bookshelf shows all eBooks and other materials currently checked out to you, inclusive of all libraries you connect to. Downloading materials is easy, and there are options for EPUB and Kindle eBooks, MP3 Audiobooks, or Play for Streaming Video. You can also listen, read, or play directly in Overdrive’s browser (Wi-Fi or Cellular connection required) or read via the Overdrive or Kindle apps.
The Bridge to Books and More Books!
By connecting to multiple libraries, you widen your field of possibilities for iPad e-reading. If a book isn’t available in your main library, then you try a different library. Think broadly. I am a member of my city’s library but also a member of my county’s library—each has a separate Overdrive account. Some communities also allow you to join their library if you are a member of a neighboring library. Some have reciprocal agreements with other libraries around the country, so if you join one, you can join ALL at no additional cost. Check with your local library and ask if they have any reciprocal agreements.
You can even purchase yearly nonresident memberships for libraries outside of your region. I know of a few cities offering this benefit to nonresidents, such as Philadelphia Free Library, Houston Public Library, and LA Public Library. These are probably the largest collections, but many regional libraries offer membership to non-residents as well, usually for a small yearly fee. So if you can’t find what you’re looking for in one library, check another. Usually, I can find all the books my family wants to read. The lesson here is to diversify your library memberships—the more you have, the more likely you are to find the book you want for iPad e-reading!
The World is Your Oyster
Overdrive is available and connected to public and school libraries in about 40+ countries including: Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Holland, India, Japan, South Korea, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Switzerland, South Africa, Luxembourg, and the United States.
For more information on Overdrive, check out their homepage.
3M Cloud Library
3M is Overdrive’s main competitor, serving the public and some commercial libraries. Some libraries, like mine, have both Overdrive and 3M Cloud Library. 3M Cloud Library also has an app in the Apple app Store. Like Overdrive, you sign up using your library card and possibly a PIN. Once you provide that information, you are routed to the 3M Cloud Library’s Featured Books Page. There you navigate to find the books you want to check out or if not currently available place on hold. Wish listing is available, 3M Cloud Library calls this “Books of Interest” (flag icon) so if you are interested in a book but not wanting to read it just yet, you place it in on your Books of Interest list.
Similar to Overdrive, linking to multiple libraries is available. And like your traditional library loan, your eBook has a limited lifespan on your device (usually 14-28 days depending on your local library’s policy.) When the loan expires, that book or other library material is no longer available on your device. So if you never read that book or didn’t complete it, you need to check it out again.
There’s an App for That!
3M Cloud Library supports iOS, Android, and offers PC and MAC desktop apps. Everything happens through these apps from signing up to searching, placing holds, and checking out library materials. I say materials because you may check out anything the libraries have in their digital collections, including audiobooks, even movies, and music depending on your library. You can read or listen to materials in 3M Cloud Library’s directly in the app, through the browser, or in Adobe Digital Editions. You can also transfer eBooks to other readers like Nook, Amazon Fire, and Kobo.
Proceed with Caution
A significant shortcoming with 3M, at least at this time, is you cannot transfer any content to your Amazon Kindle or into the Kindle app. Overdrive has the edge here, at least for Public Libraries.
3M Cloud Library is available and connected to libraries in the following countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.
For more information on 3M Cloud Library, check out their homepage.
Kindle is the older, wiser e-reader in the room, making its debut back in 2007. It’s the first blockbuster e-reader, and its name is forever branded to e-reading. Kindle is part of Amazon’s family, and there are a lot of different Kindle models including the Amazon Fire, Kindle Paperwhite, and the Kindle app, available for iOS and Android devices. It also has software for Windows and Macs and a cloud reader, allowing readers access via any web browser (wifi connection required.) Kindle claims to have one of the largest digital library collections, sitting at about 4.5 million eBooks in the US Store.
The Kindle Experience: The Look But Not the Feel of Paper
The Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader is the closest reading experience to paper you’ll find. Many people still unhappy with the glare of iPads, iPhones, and other tablets swear by Kindle Paperwhite. And as an e-reader only (you can connect to the internet to check email etc.), a single charge lasts for weeks versus days. Amazon’s newest Kindle model, the Oasis, claims to get months and months of battery life due to magnets weaved into the cover that recharges the onboard battery.
The biggest difference between Kindle and Overdrive/3M is that with Kindle you can purchase books AND loan books. So if your favorite book or the latest release is not available via your libraries, Amazon will certainly have it available for sale.
Kindle’s Loaning Library
Kindle also offers a lending library, where you loan your purchased kindle books with family and friends for iPad e-reading. Borrowing is limited to 14 days, after which the book is no longer available. Lending is available for all types of supported devices, so if you have a Kindle and your friend an iPad, you share that book via the Kindle app. Books are lent one at a time, so you cannot lend a single book to multiple people at the same time. If a loan is not accepted after seven days, that book becomes available to lend again. Unfortunately, not all Kindle books are lendable and currently no magazines or newspapers are lendable. Books eligible for lending feature a “Loan this Title” option when you select that book from your book list on your Amazon Content Page.
Kindle and Amazon Prime Member Benefits
Amazon Prime Members also receive some additional benefits through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. This benefit allows owners (Prime Members) to borrow one book each calendar month from the Kindle eBook catalog, currently at about 1 million eBooks. There is no due date on this book. It won’t disappear from your device until you decide to replace it with a new book.
Unfortunately, the eBook can only be read on an Amazon registered device. You cannot read KOLL books (Kindle Owner’s Lending Library) via the kindle app so no iPad e-reading here. Most books in KOLL are Kindle exclusives not books from the big publishers, so if you are looking for any best seller from New York Times, you won’t find it in KOLL. That doesn’t mean the KOLL books are bad. In fact, you’ll discover some great new authors and find some fascinating titles to read. Some of these authors and books have even made it to the New York Times bestseller list!
Featuring Kindle Unlimited
To confuse things further, Amazon offers Kindle Unlimited, a monthly subscription service where for a fee (currently USD $9.99/month) you can read as many books as you want and check out up to 10 books at a time. Like KOLL, there are no due dates. But Kindle Unlimited also includes audio books and access to the Kindle app so you can read on any device, at any time.
Kindle Unlimited also draws from the 1 million plus Kindle Lending Library, with one major exception. Subscribers to Kindle Unlimited have access to all of the Harry Potter books. At this time, Amazon is still working out agreements with the Big Publishers, so those books including most bestsellers are still unavailable.
Many people swear by iBooks for iPad e-reading. You purchase books via the iBooks Store and there are many offerings that are free as well as the latest bestsellers for purchase. The beauty of iBooks are the navigational tools. Most iDevices users find navigating iBooks very intuitive, following the same rules as your iPad or iPhone. Turn pages with a flick on your iDevice and read one page at a time. Or turn your iPad to landscape to view two pages at once. Use your finger as a highlighter when you’re reading a book on your iDevice. With iBooks, you can share phrases directly from the page on Facebook or Twitter or send a snippet via text or email. You can even read in white-on-black using nighttime mode.
iBooks Multi-Touch Experience
iBooks also takes advantage of multi-touch. Look for books labeled Multi-Touch books in the iBooks Store. Using multi-touch allows you to flick and swipe through photo galleries, use fingers to rotate objects, watch animations, and even listen to audio commentaries. For users that like an interactive iPad e-reading experience, multi-touch is for you!
iCloud Sync with iBooks
iBooks syncs with iCloud so all your iDevices and your computers have access to all your books at any time. So you can start reading on one device and pick it up later on another device, and you’ll start off right where you ended. Interestingly, iCloud does not currently service audiobooks, so these will not be synced across your devices. And many of the iCloud features require iOS 9 or later and Mac OS El Capitan or later.
iBooks does allow some sharing but it’s nowhere near as robust as Amazon’s Kindle. If you enabled Family Sharing, you may share your books and some other iTunes media (music, apps, and movies) with up to six family members who are identified as part of family sharing. Family Sharing will work on iOS 8 and later and MAC OS Yosemite and later. Interestingly, audiobooks are not eligible for Family Sharing. Go figure.
iBooks reads PDFs
Finally, iBooks features a library of over 2.5 million books and counting. iBooks also keeps track of all your PDF files. So any project plans, proposals, guides, or other documents are placed in your iBooks library for easy access. You also have the option to save any PDF to iBooks when received via email for easy iPad e-reading.
The Real Magic of iBooks; A World of Free Reading
iBook’s PDF feature is the real magic. By opening up all PDFs, iBooks gives you access to the world of ePub books. And this is your key to iPad e-reading the world! You can visit sites like Project Gutenberg, Open Library, Internet Archive, Smashwords, BookBoon, Bookyards, Free eBooks.net, ManyBooks, DigiLibraries, LibriVox, The Online Books Page, even Google’s eBookstore, and many others. All of these sites offer free and paid ePub books, and some offer versions for Kindle as well as versions for reading in your browser. Some even offer audio books. Some of these sites require you to subscribe; others not.
If you want to read these ePub books in iBooks, the trick is to make sure you select “Open in iBooks” when it pops up during the download. Once downloaded, treat it as you would any iBook—the navigation is the same.
Summer is the perfect time to sit back and relax with a book in hand. These days our iDevices offer great choices to find just the right book for the moment. Our iDevices store a lot of books for iPad e-reading, so we always have options for ourselves and anyone else in the family. iDevice screens have improved over the years, so reading is a lot more pleasurable than it used to be. And having a pair or two of polarized sunglasses helps on those sunny days when glare and reflections rule the day.
So what are you waiting for?
Grab some eBooks and hit the beach, pool, hammock, or wherever your travels take you. And don’t forget your umbrella and sunscreen. Happy iPad e-reading!
For most of her professional life, Amanda Elizabeth (Liz for short) trained all sorts of folks on how to use media as a tool to tell their own unique stories. She knows a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides!
Her clients include Edutopia, Scribe Video Center, Third Path Institute, Bracket, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Big Picture Alliance.
Elizabeth received her Master of Fine Arts degree in media making from Temple University, where she also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member in their department of Film and Media Arts.