The day library patrons can download and read a library ebook directly on a mobile device will be the day I can die happy.
We’re not there yet. It’s still stupidly complicated to get a library ebook onto a device. Anytime there’s a step involved along the lines of “now, connect your device to your computer…”, they’ve lost me for good. Here’s a hint: I love my mobile device because it’s not tethered to the mothership.
Still, this week has been a bright spot in the otherwise dark corridors of library ebook usability. First, OverDrive released a teaser video of an app they’re releasing in December that looks like it will accomplish the direct-to-device lending and download (something I’ve been grousing about for at least a year now). It’s also iPhone-only to start; they say the Android and iPad versions are “coming soon” (which honestly seems a little silly to me given that the iPad is a far superior ereader to the iPhone).
Still, that’s more than a month off, and my needs as a library user are going unmet right now.
“an update to Bluefire Reader is now available on App Store. Top New Feature: support for library loan eBooks!”
The post comes from Micah Bowers, founder and UX director for Bluefire Productions, the shop behind the Bluefire reader. Bluefire is now my new favorite ereading app by a mile, and here’s why: the app plays nicely with Adobe DRM, which is what OverDrive uses and has been the barrier between me and reading on my preferred device (the iPad).
Below is a quick guide on how I got OverDrive ebooks working on an iPhone/iPad with no cords involved and no syncing required, using a refinement I read about on Mobiputing about emailing yourself the file. (To grab screenshots I used images from tests on both devices, so don’t be alarmed if the the images switch from one to the other.)
Note: This process is a dream come true for a library dork like myself. I’m willing to jump through a lot of hoops to get library ebooks onto a device. I can’t, however, say the same will be true of many library patrons, and this process most certainly does not pass the grandparent simplicity test. Teach this process to your loved ones and patrons at your own risk.
In conclusion: I still think it’s stupidly complicated to get a library ebook onto a mobile device, but at least we’re making progress.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- An iPhone or an iPad
- The latest version of the free Bluefire app
- An Adobe ID used to authorize the Bluefire app (Note: you just need the ID; you don’t need Adobe Digital Editions for this to work)
- A library card at a library that offers OverDrive ebooks (try looking at the Sony/OverDrive Library Finder to get started)
- An email account accessible on your mobile device (as noted in the comments, you’ll have to use the native mail app on your device, not a Gmail or other app)
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Download the title from your local public library’s OverDrive selection.
2. Locate the file you just downloaded that has the extension .acsm (which stands for Adobe Content Server Message). It will likely have the title in the filename, along with some numbers.
3. Email that file to yourself so that you’ll be able to get to it on the iPhone/iPad.
4. Fire up your email on your device, and select the attachment you just sent.
5. Choose “Open in ‘Bluefire Reader’”.
6. Choose “Read Now”.
At this point, you should be up and reading—and check out the Info page for the details on your lending period, as well as the ability to return the item once you’ve read it so others can get it sooner.
And, just because it’s so great, I’ll leave you with one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen an iPhone or an iPad do:
Questions? Thoughts? Let me know in the comments below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.