Answer

Format compatibility

Ereaders (also known as ebook readers or E Ink readers) have displays that resemble ink on printed paper. They're used primarily for reading ebooks. Ereaders must be compatible with EPUB files that are protected with Digital Rights Management, or DRM, or they won't work with library ebooks from OverDrive. DRM is being used to track the loan period and expire the book.

With some ereader models, you must side-load (via USB connector) library books from a computer that's been authorized to you (for the DRM). If you do not own a Windows or Macintosh personal computer, avoid buying the kind of ereader that requires it for sideloading OverDrive books.

Some models of Kobo e-readers have a built in OverDrive feature allowing you to borrow ebooks directly from libraries (more details), so there's no need for an authorized computer for loading library books. However, not all of the library's ebooks are available through the Kobo built in OverDrive feature.

The Kindle brand of ereader is compatible with library ebooks only in the Kindle format*. Kindle does not support the EPUB format. All of the Library's ebooks to date are either EPUB or PDF compatible, and most (but not all) of them are also Kindle compatible.

Tablets are hand-held computers with a color screen and the ability to run apps. All tablets—whether Fire or Apple or otherwise—allow you to use apps for reading ebooks in any format.

Buying one for your travels?

Think about the ease of loading library books onto the device while you're away.

It will be difficult or impossible to sideload onto an ereader while you're traveling away from your computer. Load up before you leave home.

The Kobo built in OverDrive feature is limited to certain countries (more details).

OverDrive's apps work internationally, with some caveats.

The Kindle ereaders (with E Ink) allow you to sync over Wi-Fi for delivery of the book, but you have to perform the checkout in a Web browser. It can be any browser, though—phone, tablet, or computer. There's even an "experimental browser" built in on the PaperWhite. The "send to Kindle" feature is available in the U.S. only.

Smartphone and tablet

If you use a tablet or smartphone for reading your ebooks, you aren't subject to any format limitations. You can load ebooks wirelessly any time, anywhere you have Internet connectivity. You can also use our Flipster downloadable magazines, Hoopla and Kanopy streaming videos, LinkedIn Learning for Library, and much more. There are some disadvantages: you may have eyestrain from screen flicker, the screen may be difficult to read in bright direct sunlight, they're not as comfortable to hold, and the battery runs out faster. And since they perform so many computer functions, you might be distracted from the reading you want to be doing.


*EPUB files that are not protected by DRM can be converted to a Kindle-supported format through the use of Calibre software. Library ebooks are DRM protected.

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  • Last Updated Jun 09, 2023
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