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Denver Public Library offers e-titles on the go -- sort of

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The Denver Public Library has long been hip to technology, whether it's offering DVD selections that rival Blockbuster or allowing patrons to download tawdry B-movies from its website.

Now the institution's getting into the smartphone craze, having developed a mobile website optimized for portable devices where folks on the go can browse and download digital titles like eBooks and audio books.

At least, that's how it works in theory.

In reality, however, these titles must be downloaded through a variety of software programs, none of which are compatible with one another -- and each works on a different segment of portable devices. Most eBooks, for example, have to be downloaded and read through Adobe Digital Editions, an ungainly program that doesn't sync with any portable devices other than a few Sony Reader models. And here we were thinking library books were supposed to be enjoyed by everyone.

To help you sort through the muddle, we've explained below how the library's media downloads work with some of the most popular portable devices -- or at least our best guesses.

iPhones and iPods: There's good and bad news, sheep Apple fans. iPhones and iPods can download and play the library's audio books using a program called the OverDrive Media Console. The catch is that OverDrive, for some reason, only works with iPhones and iPods plugged into PCs, not Macs. Go figure. For those with the audacity to own both an Apple-brand portable device and an Apple computer, there is a smaller number of audio books in MP3 format that work on your system. As for eBooks? Forgetaboutit.

Blackberries, Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices: If you own one of these gizmos, here's your chance to laugh at all the cooler kids with iPhones: Your device can read Denver Library eBooks -- some of them, anyway. Turns out a subsection of the library's eBooks can be read on these devices thanks to a program called Mobipocket Reader. Unfortunately, it's touch and go as to whether the same device will be able to handle the library's audio books. Some Blackberries, for example, are compatible with OverDrive, while some models definitely aren't. It might be worth trying to see if you can get the program to work on your doohickey -- if you don't mind risking a cyber-meltdown.

Android phones: Suckers! Your smart phones don't work with eBooks or audio books. The power of Google, my ass!

Sony Reader: Well, look at you, fancy-pants Sony Reader owner. Your little thingamabob can read all of the library's eBooks, not to mention to its MP3-style audio books. Too bad you still wish you owned a Kindle.

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