Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Free + Reading = Freading

Our recent bout of frigid weather has definitely kept me indoors.  The truth is that my wardrobe just doesn’t accommodate below-freezing temperatures.  My usual winter wear includes a windbreaker or barn coat, scarf and gloves and many layers of t-shirts and sweaters – no real match for a wind chill of 10 degrees.  So you can imagine how a quick walk from the office to the bank on Friday nearly took my breath away.

Thank goodness I visited the library last week for a short stack of gardening books and Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog.
But I’ve also been exploring Freading – a collection of downloadable books that is relatively new to our library.

Freading is the brain child of Library Ideas LLC, based in Fairfax, and through a partnership with the Library of Virginia, is available to all library patrons in the Commonwealth.  You can access the collection via your local library’s website or electronic catalog.  Freading may not offer the largest or even most up-to-date selection of books, but I appreciate that access to each book is unlimited.  It doesn’t matter how many other folks have checked it out.  Our library belongs to another e-book program, which simulates physical bookshelves.  Basically, an e-book can only be downloaded by one person at a time… much like real-life volumes.

Freading check-out is based on a system of tokens.  Every patron starts with a certain amount of free tokens (5 at our library), and books “cost” 1, 2 or 4 tokens each, depending on their newness and general popularity.  Each week, tokens are added to your total, which includes any unused tokens.  On the fourth week, you start afresh.

Your download lasts for a 2-week circulation period, but you can usually renew.

The Freading collection is rather heavy with how-to manuals, such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting and An Herbalist's Guide to Growing and Using Violets; a surprising number of “pet” books, including the popular Unlikely Friendships; some naughty romances; and, since Barnes and Noble is one of the participating publishers, a bunch of true classics.  So it’s easy to tackle Far From the Maddening Crowd or The Woman in White during your lunch hours.  At 1 token each, cookbooks are especially guilt-free downloads.  I think it’s a nice way to test drive a few recipes before investing in the actual… meaning a hold-in-your hand, jot-notes-in-the-borders, share-with-friends… book.
The Barcelona Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Wine and Life
by Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer with Mary Goodbody
No matter where you live, ask your local librarian about Freading today.  It might just save you from winter chills and doldrums.

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