Friday 29 September 2023

Paradise will be a kind of library

I always loved books, and therefore libraries, growing up, but got out of the habit of visiting after starting work. Most of my reading is digital these days, and while perusing a potential replacement for a trusty Kindle saw that one of the selling points of Kobo readers is integration with Libby, an app that allows you to borrow ebooks from your local library. I thought I’d have a look at what might be available, and was really impressed at the whole process. Signing up for a digital library card was very straightforward (fortunately our library uses Libby, not all do) and immediately unlocks a massive range of books, comics, magazines and audiobooks. The app is available on PC, tablet and phone and synchronises across devices; a phone isn’t ideal for reading but does the job in a pinch, comics and magazines work particularly well on an iPad.

Not every book in the world is available (not unreasonably) but the selection is extremely impressive, and you can even sign up for libraries in other areas to broaden your choices. I found a few books I’d been contemplating anyway (Bob Mortimer’s The Satsuma Complex is as funny as you’d expect while also working surprisingly well as a thriller), and the “… you might also like” suggestions have paid great dividends. A couple have been fine without really grabbing me, one was pretty disappointing, then it suggested John Lawton’s Black Out, a London policeman investigating murders in 1944. That sounded right up my street, and I rapidly devoured it and two sequels that advanced into the 1950s and 60s, using historical events and scandals as the background with some real figures and some fictional substitutes. I’m currently on the fourth, that returns to the 1940s, and very much looking forward to the rest.

I understand that the app allows some books to be borrowed and sent to a Kindle in the US, but that option isn’t available in the UK; a bit of a shame, but if there’s a good offer on a Kobo device with integrated Libby functionality I’ll certainly be very tempted.

No comments: