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The iPad stands out as the next step towards creating personal devices that centralize a whole range of functions, from Internet features to multimedia experiences. The digital ebook format has recently become a new standard for many people and electronic book readers are becoming increasingly popular among the book hungry consumer population. The iPad can bring these functions directly to its touch screen because of its perfect dimensions, but the ebook format has mainly built itself around the purchase of these digital copies rather than the ability to check them out temporarily.
The ebook format seems perfectly fitted to the more traditional library institutions and it would make reading ebooks a more practical option for everyone. So can you read ebooks from the library on the iPad?
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ePub Files on the iPad
Many libraries use what is called the ePub format, which is short for the Open Publication Structure eBook format. The ePub file is designed to be opened with an ebook application on your computer that has been set to recognize the ePub file. What has caused the confusion about whether your can read ebooks from the library on the iPad or not is that one of the more common ways to read ebooks on the iPad is inside of an application through which you purchased your ebooks.
What you will want to do instead is download an ePub file and then sync it to your iPad in the same way you would with a different type of media file. Since there is not a infrastructure in the iPad for ebooks in the same way that there is for other media through the iPod section, it didn't seem like it was going to be possible to just use independent ePub files on the iPad.
iBooks will now allow you to open ePub files that have been synced over iTunes and have not actually come from iBooks itself. The same limitations of the ePub will continue, but its use on the iPad is still being worked out in terms of bugs and issues.
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Many public libraries will use DRM protection on their ebook files and this will not be acceptable in iBooks, so you will have to check this ahead of time.
Many libraries also have already made their books available for readers like the Kindle but have yet to support the iPad, likely because of the fear that the iPad could lead to ebook piracy in the same way that the iPod was correlated to music piracy. These protection policies will eventually be released as reading devices become a new standard, but currently the DRM security feature is going to be a clear problem for iPad users. The may end up being avoided if Adobe develops an ebook reading application of their own, but this is not currently likely due to the formatting problems between Adobe programs and Apple platforms.