By Heather Camlot
You don’t have to own an eReader to enjoy a good book in electronic format, though it does help. A smartphone, a laptop, even a Nintendo DS can transform your favourite tome into a digital delight.
Where to start? Try our suggested apps, cards and web sites and get ready to take your library wherever you go – without all the heavy lifting.
This free app turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a classic library – we’re talking everything from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to War of the Worlds. Choose by genre, author, title or Top 25, select the font size and page colour (white, black, sepia) and catch up on your reading.
How many parents wish they had a kids’ book on hand when stuck in a line at the supermarket or waiting for a plane at the airport? This app has 16 childhood favourites, like Pinocchio and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The app costs $0.99, with each book costing slightly extra. For iPhone and iPod Touch.
Okay, we’re suckers for a good mystery, and who better to satisfy than the master himself, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? With 12 classic Sherlock Holmes short stories to entertain, you’ll be too rapt to notice the passing of time. $2.99 US, for BlackBerry.
With some eReaders, you can skip the gadget and go straight for the service. For Kobo, download the free app for desktop, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm Prē. Or choose among iPhone and iPad apps for iBooks, Kindle or Barnes & Noble (the latter also available for iPod Touch and Android).
Sure that Nintendo DS has been handy keeping the kids busy with Cars and Lego games, but you’re allowed to use it too, right? While most of us have likely turned to the DS for brain games and exercise help, the DS also has a nice book selection. Among the offerings: Jane Austen’s Emma, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. Can’t decide? A book guide will suggest a book for you after asking a few questions. Want to block out the noise while reading on the subway? Turn on some background noise, like crashing waves at the beach. Ahhh…
If your kids love reading (or you’re looking for a way to get them to stop playing games and pick up a book), then you’ll enjoy Flips interactive books. Similar to the DS card above, the Nintendo DS Flips turn beloved books like Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl into interactive stories to get kids reading. Along with the actual story, young readers can access character guides, sound effects and extra features. Six to eight books are in each collection, but be warned, at $41 Flips are pricey, as at time of writing they are only available as UK imports.
Libraries: Guess what – you can still visit the library to borrow a book or two. Go online to your local library and see whether it offers eBook downloads for use on your computer, certain eReaders and some smartphones. Make sure your library card is up to date, download the necessary software and read away. Some libraries through which the service is available: Toronto Public Library, British Columbia Libraries and Halifax Public Libraries.
Book publishers: No need to rush to the bookstore for the latest book hot off the press. You can simply download it from the publisher’s web site right onto your computer, smartphone or eReader. Check out Random House Canada (fill up on romance with Danielle Steel), Penguin Group Canada (Stieg Larsson, anyone?) and Simon & Schuster (chilling Kathy Reichs).
First published November 6, 2010 on WorkLivePlayCafe.com.