As a librarian the one question I get asked more than any other regarding the Kindle is “can you check out library books with it?” Before September 21st the answer was no. Overdrive, the software that handles public library ebooks, did not support the file format that Kindle uses. Now that’s all changed . Kindle has arrived on the seen in a big way. They have a 3 minute and 53 second video  that explains just how easy their multi-step process is. The non-Kindle download is basically a three step process: choose it, put a hold on it, download it. The Kindle check-out process goes something like this: choose it, put a hold on the book, choose the Kindle option, it automatically sends you to the Amazon website,  choose “Get Library Book”, sign in to Amazon, choose your device (that’s right if you are savvy enough to figure out that the Amazon app that you have on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone will work you can choose one of those options), click continue, click download…phew. Perhaps a small price to pay to get library books on the Kindle.

What’s good:

  • You can make notes in the book and it will save them for your next check-out or if you decide to purchase the book.
  • Amazon sends you an e-mail when you have 3 days left on your check-out.
  • Amazon sends you an e-mail when your book has expired
  • You can publish your reading info to your social networks (because everybody cares)
  • Amazon will have a better profile of you when suggesting books because your lending library habits will go in their system
  • You can finally get a public library book on the Kindle

What’s sketchy:

  • The multi-click check-out process is created to get you to buy the book from Amazon
  • Hold times at public libraries are already very long for popular ebook titles, the addition of Kindle users could make this additionally frustrating. (I have been waiting at least 3 months for 5 different e-titles through my public library)
  • Due to the fact that renewing is not possible and you have to get to the back of the line if you don’t finish your book you may very well purchase the book from Amazon just to finish it.
  • Amazon will have a better profile of you when suggesting books because your lending library habits will go in their system

What about that Amazon Tablet?

Don’t go out and buy that Kindle you’ve been holding off on just yet. The rumor is that the Amazon’s tablet will be announced this coming Wednesday. With that announcement, the relatively reliable rumors say, they will also announce the Amazon lending library. Basically, if you are an Amazon Prime customer (that will cost you $79 a year) you will have free reign to lend certain titles from Amazon. Specific information like: Which title? Will there be holds placed on books that are already checked out? How long can a book be checked out for? How many books can be check ed out at one time? Are all unknown. Could it run circles around the current public library e-lending system? Quite possibly. However, you still need a digital device to read the book on and you still need to shell out an additional fee to be a Prime member.
Is it a coincidence that Amazon announces their partnership with OverDrive and public libraries right before they announce their tablet and lending service? I think not.

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