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U.S. libraries now lending eBooks for Kindle

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September 22, 2011

Library-goers in the U.S. can now borrow books for Kindle eReaders and Kindle apps from th...

Library-goers in the U.S. can now borrow books for Kindle eReaders and Kindle apps from their local library

Despite their somewhat stuffy image, libraries have generally embraced new technology, with public Internet access and library catalogs stored on computer databases the norm. The ability to search a catalog online means we no longer have to traipse down to the local library to see if a book we're after is available or not. Now bookworms won't even have to physically go to the library to actually borrow a book with the news that more than 11,000 local libraries in the U.S. are set to lend eBooks that can be viewed on Kindle eReaders and devices running the Kindle app.

To borrow an eBook, all you'll need is a library card - which I hope you already have - and an Amazon account - which if you have a Kindle, you probably already have. Head to your local library's website, find the book you're after and select "Send to Kindle" to check out the book. This will redirect you to Amazon.com where you'll need to log into your account, whereupon the book can be downloaded to your device via W-Fi or transferred via USB - there's no 3G support.

Borrowed books, which won't just include out-of-copyright works like a similar Kindle book borrowing service at the British library, will function just like any Kindle eBook. Facebook and Twitter integration will work, while notes, highlights, bookmarks and last page read will synch across devices with Whispersync and remain backed up if you decide to borrow the book again at a later date or buy it. Aside from the ability to scribble notes in books to your heart's content without fear of recrimination, borrowing eBooks also means no more late fees for books you've misplaced.

The library lending system is powered by Overdrive, a distributor of digital content to 15,000 public and school libraries worldwide. More than 11,000 of these are in the U.S., which are seeing the rollout of the new service in BETA now. To see if your local library is one of them you can do a search here.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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5 Comments

Endless waiting lines, welcome! I have not been sucessful in borrowing any e-book from a library: there always would be a dozen people ahead (which is half-a-year waiting time). The libraries want to pretend the e-copy is a hard copy and would not borrow it to you before you do your time. Kindle is a lose - lose game.

It is a hide and seek game too. With a hard copy you know if it is there or not: you walk down the line and what you touch you can (usually) borrow or at least read on the spot. E-copy is like a Schroedinger cat: it is there and it is not at the same time, you have to measure/inquire to find out. (Than you put yourself down for half-a-year waiting.)

The whole ecosystem of books/reading changes: no cheap library discards or charity books any longer. You will have to buy the old ones as "completely new e-copies" for full kindle price. (A completely new e-copy sounds somewhat ridiculous anyway.) You accumulated a library of e-books? Bad luck. After you expire your library will too. It will evaporate with errasure of your Kindle account. No "wisdom of ages" down family lines. [Literally] Vaporware.

nehopsa
23rd September, 2011 @ 08:13 am PDT

Not only is the Kindle app supported by my Library (NYC Public Library) But almost EVERY standard E-readers are now supported by the NYC Libraries. Easy to use and is great on my Color Nook. It really does help pass the time while commuting. Regardless if you have a Kindle, PC, Mac, Tablet or a Color Nook. You now have the knowledge base of the library at your finger tips.

Charles Komlo
24th September, 2011 @ 09:17 am PDT

I think book publishers are beginning to realize what the music industry had to start learning ten years ago (hopefully, being readers, they will get it a little faster though): In the new world of distributed file sharing, and mass digital media, someone has already digitized your work. You can either take the Cory Doctorow side (here, enjoy my stuff keep it intact with my name on it, and pay for my book if you want a hard copy) or the DRM happy route (you can pay to have this book for as long as our proprietary reader works on your device, assuming it downloads correctly, and we can have all your billing information, and you keep updating our software, and agree to whatever licence agreement we feel like this week).

Here's the final score though: almost every book you can think of is downloadable as an open PDF using file sharing software (I know this because I hate loosing arguments, and in the face of astounding evidence I was once forced to concede this point to a friend) and the only thing that keeps people buying books is a love of paper, good formatting, and a certain desire to be patrons of the arts (and a certain well placed mistrust of the kind of web site that lets you download this type of content).

However, the desire to be slaves to big publishing houses and to the paranoid ideas of the few still clinging madly to the idea that allowing digital copies of their work to exist will suddenly cause nice little bookshops to dry up is rapidly waning in the younger population, and I imagine that in only another year or two many of the books that have traditionally been problems (cult classics, textbooks, or special editions of public domain works) will either be thriving in new ecosystems, or taken over by the grey market domain. In the same way, DRM is only feasible in something so complex that a teenager with some spare time can't permanently disable it - something that books will never be (and never need to be). Instead, publishers and content providers need to work together to push better delivery systems (like the one in this article, or like Google Books/Market) and help guide readers to more content they like.

Charles Bosse
26th September, 2011 @ 04:42 pm PDT

As I understand it, libraries are under the same lending restrictions as with physical books. i.e. If only one copy was purchased then only one copy can be loaned out at a time. You could have the same queue with a hard copy except more people are likely to reserve their place since they don't have to make a trip to the library when its their turn.

My only objection to e-books is often paying as much or almost for an electronic copy that can't be sold or lent without restrictions or given away. I am willing to pay a smaller sum for convenience, but if I have to pay the equivalent of a hard copy, I want something to hold.

I understand that writing and editing takes time, effort and talent and I certainly do not mind paying for that. Or when cheapness or budget reins, I have a library card and I use it. But it seems that charging the same as a physical copy greatly benefits only the publisher.

jclinton46
12th February, 2012 @ 04:38 pm PST

Is this really news? My library has been lending ebooks and audiobooks for years. With the Overdrive app I could read/listen to the ebooks/audiobooks on my computer or smartphone (the latter is convenient for playing them in the car through the car's audio system).

For newer books there is a waiting list, just like with the hard copies. However, with books a few years out from publication, I can find thousands of titles. At the end of the check out period the title expires. It is so easy. I love it.

ward26102
17th July, 2012 @ 08:06 pm PDT
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