Yesterday the Overdrive Media Console on my Droid X was finally updated to include access to ebooks. I’ve been checking ebooks out from my public libraries for several years (SPL or KCLS depending when in the aforementioned ‘years’ we’re talking about). The ability to read library ebooks is one of the main things I missed when moving to Android from a Windows Mobile (WM) device (a Dell Axim X51v with WM 5). I also use a netbook to download library content from Overdrive, and likely still will for a while. The updated Android app only displays Adobe’s DRM version of the EPUB standard (maintained by the IDPF), but some books I might want to read are still limited to the Mobipocket and PDF formats at my library. I won’t now go into the disadvantages consumers face with all the different formats and DRM schema — perhaps another post for another day.
So far I have been happy with the Overdrive app. I downloaded a book from my public library directly to my phone, no transferring from computer to device as was necessary with my Windows Mobile device. I added my public library to the console, then I was taken to the browser to log in to my library’s Overdrive site. I’d already found, checked out, and started reading the book on my netbook, so all I had to do was download what was in the “My Items Out” list and start reading. I haven’t used the Overdrive mobile web interface to find a new book to read, but the part of the interaction I did complete seemed straight forward enough, so I am not anticipating major difficulties.
Reading the book in the app is similar to other programs on other devices I’ve used (mostly Windows and Windows Mobile systems). One thing I like is the Night Mode, which turns the screen black and the text to white. You can set this in the Reader Settings once you are in an ebook. I find that the lower glare of white text on black background is a lot easier on my eyes in low (or even regular) light environments. Moving from page to page is simple, just click on the side of the screen of the direction you want to move through the book (i.e. to move forward a page tap the right side of the screen or the left side to move back a page). I also used the Navigation option under the settings button to move to the chapter I’d left off at on my other device. There was a bit of a time lag as the app loaded some pages (mostly between chapters perhaps?), so not quite as smooth as I’d expect, but hopefully that will improve soon — it should just be a more seamless transition, or so it seems to me.