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March 28, 2006 > E-books and downloadable audio books from your library

E-books and downloadable audio books from your library

by Sallie Pine, Reference Services Manager, Fremont Main Library

Books aren't just in paper format anymore. They come in a variety of electronic formats so that you can read them on your home computer, PDA or smartphone. You can search the content very easily for something specific, or just read them. There are also some audio books that can be downloaded for listening on a variety of devices. Some of these can even be copied from your computer onto a CD so you can listen to them in your car. And you never have to worry about overdue fines. The library gets its e-format reading material from several different vendors. Find a link to all of them from our website at

The largest number of titles comes from NetLibrary. You may find them browsing in our catalog, or you can do a specific search for them by doing a keyword search in our catalog and using the drop-down menu next to "Material Format" to limit to e-books. We get 5,367 titles from NetLibrary, which range from business topics to technical and scholarly writing, computer books, Cliff's Notes and a large collection of public domain books (classic works of literature, as well as other titles). To be able to read these, you will need to create a NetLibrary account first, which you have to do in person at any Alameda County library with your library card.

Once you have the account, you can view the e-book, or "check it out" for 24 hours. Viewing allows you to look at it for 15 minutes at a time. Every time you "turn a page," 15 more minutes are added. Checking it out means you can browse and read without worrying about time limits. You also need to have the free Adobe Reader installed to view these books. If you don't have it, get it by going to and clicking on the "Get Adobe Reader" button on the left. You can print one page at a time in either mode.

We also have a collection called Califa Digital Books and Audiobooks. Clicking on the link from our e-books page listed above will direct you to the Califa page at There you will see guides to getting started, including a list of the different software for the different formats. This collection has e-books that use the Adobe Reader and some for reading on portable devices with software called Mobipocket (Unfortunately, Mobipocket will not work with iPods, but can be used with most PDAs and smartphones).

The downloadable audiobooks use something called the Overdrive Media Console, and you'll also have to have a Windows Media Player (series 9 or later) loaded. Once you find a title you want, you'll need to download the right software for the title you want and activate it. There are instructions for how to do all of this on the Califa site. Then add it to your Book Bag and check it out. You can have five titles at a time. Most of them check out for three weeks (21 days), but the time for a few titles may vary. The checkout time is displayed after you click on an individual title. The material is automatically "returned" after that time.

There is also a collection called Safari Tech Books Online. This is a collection of books for programming and IT students and professionals from O'Reilly and other technical publishers. It is not necessary to set up an account, although you will need your Alameda County Library card to access these books from home. You might find them in a search for books on a particular computer topic, or you can see them all by either using Safari Tech Books Online as an author, or clicking on the Safari Tech link from our e-books page. These don't use any additional software.

Last but not least, we have a collection of digital magazines in Chinese from a company called Dragonsource in Canada and on mainland China. The link to these full-text magazines can be found by going to our homepage,, then clicking on Articles and Databases under Research Center, then on Chinese E-Magazines. If the characters do not display correctly, click on the toolbar: View>Character Encoding>Chinese Simplified or Chinese Traditional. To browse magazine titles by subject area, choose a category on the left, from literature to history, science, art and more. Click on a recent issue in the middle of the page to see table of contents for that issue and links to back issues on the left.

Database of the Month: NoveList and NoveList K through 8

Click on:> Articles and Databases> Books, Authors & Literary Criticism>NoveList.

Maybe you'd rather read a book in paper, but you aren't sure exactly what. If you are a fiction reader, NoveList can help you find something new. Under the Search tab, you can find descriptions of all the books by a favorite author, use titles of books you have liked to find books with the same themes, use a series name to get titles of all the books in the series, or find a book by entering words that describe the kind of book you want (examples: historical romance china or military science fiction). The "Browse Lists" tab lists award winning and recommended books, and allows you to browse by age level and genre (adventure, romance, mystery and so on). If you choose, you can sign in to My Novelist and create your own free account for saving searches and creating your own personal lists.

NoveList K through 8 works pretty much the same way. You can search by topic or theme and age level (Teens 13 to 19, Children's 8 to 12, Easy 0 to 7) or browse lists. There are resources for teachers, too, with state curriculum standards, guides for classroom discussion and activities, and more.

Read it online, download an audiobook, or get recommendations for a novel. Do it all with your library card at

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