Good news for libraries looking for cost-savings and cutting edge digital content. OverDrive Media’s 15,000 titles from Project Gutenberg are free to add to your collection. This large addition of adult & children’s classics boost the digital content available to your patrons. OverDrive has released this eBook Device Cheat Sheet for libraries & patrons, noting eReaders that are compatible with the OverDrive download software – with the notable absence of the Amazon Kindle. One plus for the Sony & Nook eReaders is that both allow multitasking – you can both listen to an MP3 audiobook file downloaded to the reader while reading an eBook text, unlike the Kindle. This functionality allows the creation of a do-it-yourself enhanced text+audio eBook!
A commonly-touted benefit for the Kindle 3 is the robotic text-to-speech function. With a little tech-savvyness, users can combine free Project Gutenberg titles with a HUMAN voice from LibriVox’s free audiobooks for a text-to-TALK enhanced eBook on the Sony Reader or Nook. I’m not sure about the other digital readers on the OverDrive cheat sheet, but I think the notation of listen-while-reading functionality would be an important addition to the cheat sheet. The combination of LibriVox+eBook expands resources for the print-disabled, English language learners, those with learning disabilities, as well as users who just like to toggle back & forth from text to listening. Of course, patrons can also combine listening to an MP3 audiobook downloaded from the public library’s OverDrive collection with the eBook as well – but if funds are low, and the library can’t purchase an audiobook for every free Project Gutenberg title, the LibriVox collection of volunteer-read books equals no-cost content. A short how-to sheet or link to the LibriVox how-to videos plus promos on the library website and at the circulation desk will alert your digital patrons to a new way to enhance their reading – especially those plugged-in high school students in British Lit classes! And soon I’ll be able to listen to LibriVox while I read on my multifuction Android phone, with the OverDrive app demonstrated in the video below! But I suspect the biggest fans of LibriVox + OverDrive Project Gutenberg classics will be the the largest category of eBook readers – those who read on their computer – sure to be a popular option for students & seniors alike!