Tuesday, June 21


It's a universally recognized truth that technology is wonderful… when it works.

Almost as often, it does a convincing job of embodying one of the circles of Dante's hell, causing chaos and aggravation where there shouldn't have to be any. I'm sure I'm far from the only person who has sworn furiously at a laptop that refuses to acknowledge the existence of a printer physically positioned less than a foot away, even though both are plugged in, powered on, wi-fi connected, and came in packaging that asserts they'll effortlessly auto-connect. Right.

I've long found ebooks to be a prime example of how the miracle of technology should work in our favor but usually doesn't.

Book Dragon (Source)
After a series of time-wasting, headache-inducing attempts to get ebooks on my Kindle from a variety of sources (such as free book review websites I belong to, the library system, etc.), I adopted a hard-and-fast rule of strategically avoided any ebooks that didn't come directly from Amazon. Everything else just seemed to cost more time and energy jumping through hoops, searching for files, or trouble-shooting why the book wouldn't open and display properly than I would have invested actually driving to the library and picking up a hard copy.

Just about the time I was starting to seriously believe that Dilbert's Mordac Preventer of Information Services might actually be real, my local library system did something amazing: they integrated Amazon with Overdrive! Whoo hoo!

For those of you who are not book dragons too cheap to fuel your own addiction (and therefore independent of the library), Overdrive is an online ebook and audiobook system that libraries can buy into. Library patrons then sign in using their library card info to 'borrow' digital materials. Some people swear by it, but personally I've never found it to be less than a huge pain to navigate and utilize. I mostly just stopped trying a couple years ago, in fact.

Recently, while looking for something in particular, I discovered entirely by accident that my library system's Overdrive setup has been upgraded! Now, when I select an ebook, one of the download options is a direct link to the book's page on Amazon. Instead of “buy now” the the button says “borrow now”. Click it, and the book is sent instantly and directly to my Kindle – no fuss!

End result: I don't have to fight the crazy, construction-mangled traffic patterns to get to the library. Instead, I remain happily hermit-ed away, reading for free on my Kindle, no headaches required.

There wasn't really a point to this post except to (a) post about something good that makes me happy, and (b) encourage you to go sneak a peak at your library's Overdrive page and see if you are the beneficiary of such an upgrade yourself.

After all, with Mordac's efforts plaguing most corners of daily life, sometimes it's a huge win to be reminded that there is hope for the kind of smoothly integrated, make-life-easier techology sci-fi has always promised us.

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