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e-books are fantastic.  Especially now that they’re so easy to come by, and use!

300px-Melk_-_Abbey_-_Library

And nope, you don’t need a dedicated e-book reader such as Kindle.  You can use your tablet (eg. an iPad*), or your phone (not necessarily an iPhone, for example). Or your computer.

Of course, you can use dedicated e-book readers too, of which the Kindle is only one.  There are also others, such as the Kobo.

Which is awesome.

But, short of pirating books**, or using free e-books where either the copyright has lapsed (Project Gutenberg is good resource for this), or copyright holders have released the book _as_ free, e-books aren’t always as cheap as one might think.  Which means that there’s a huge range of e-books out there which many people cannot, or will not, access due to their cost (USD $10 is still a lot of money for some people, for example).

Society already has structures for people to be able to read books for free, and then give them back so that other people might enjoy them.  They’re called libraries, and they’re absolutely magical places.  And, apparently, they’ve gotten in on the whole e-book thing, too!

Some of New Zealand’s libraries, including Wellington City Library, now have a stock of e-books available for loan. WCL, apparently, has over 1,500 (if memory serves me correctly).

My mind did boggle initially at the idea of ‘borrowing’ digital content – mostly around the question ‘how do I give it back?!’.  There’s a solution, though – the content expires after a set time.  In this case, one can loan an e-book for 2 weeks.

I’ll admit I’m a little confused about why it’s a shorter period than one has when taking out physical books, but nonetheless – pretty cool.

Can’t believe I only heard about it today :)

And if anyone knows when this ability came online, I’d love to know!

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Sidenote

I’m very, very pro paper-based books in many ways.  I love the way they smell and feel, for example, and that I can drop them in the bath or fall asleep on them.  However, I’m also aware that they use up an awful lot of tree and carbon footprint, and in many cases, a digital version is just as good as the real thing (and, if built properly with interactive features such as dictionaries, even better).

And I can see why art books, for example, don’t work digitally.  But for most novels?  Digital makes tonnes of sense.  Took me a while to convert, but there: I said it :)

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* Although I have to admit, the iPad feels like it was designed for the sole purpose of reading comic books.  Which is a very, very good thing.  We like our comics :)

** Which is considered to be Not Cool.