Kindle Books – Coming to a Library Near You

by Rachel Baker on April 20, 2011

I’m sure by now, you’ve heard that Amazon is launching library lending for Kindle books.  From the Amazon Press Release:

Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.

Awesome, right?  Well, yeah.

What I find most impressive and awesome is this allows library users to take notes in the book they are reading on loan from a library.

Again, from the press release:

Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer’s annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.

“We’re doing a little something extra here,” Marine continued. “Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we’re extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced.”

It seems to me that college students around the country should be thrilled! This completely allows them to take notes on books they check out for research, and then download their notes or even check the book out a second time for more extensive research purposes later down the line.  Further, if a student decided they needed to buy the book, all their previous notes would be available without the student having to dig out their computer file, or notecards (do people still use notecards?).

Anyway, I think this is a great new service that Amazon is providing. I don’t really understand why they weren’t in the front running for library lending – though I’m sure it had to do with cost-benefit analysis or something. Maybe they were just trying to figure out how to make the note-taking technology work.

The major concern I have with this is whether or not libraries will able to afford the books. In this editorial, I brought to your attention librarians boycotting Harper-Collins because of the lending policy the publishing house has.  I can’t help but wonder if lending policies will hamper this lending e-book evolution over the long term.

Once again, there’s so much to keep an eye on in this industry and its evolution into an e-book reader friendly world.  The growing pains I think are going to painful, but in the end, I think it will be worth it for all involved.

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