Kindle Getting Library Lending at 11,000 libraries in 2011

Reposted From: John Donohue
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 1:12 PM

The following article from the GottaBeMobile tech site that I use often. It gives an experienced user’s perspective on the impact. This is supplemental to Jackie and Christine’s email about the Amazon announcement.

Kindle Getting Library Lending at 11,000 libraries in 2011

Amazon has just announced that the Kindle will allow users to check out books from their local libraries later this year. To bring library lending to the Kindle, Amazon has partnered with Overdrive, the leading provider of library eBooks which will bring library lending to the Kindle device and Kindle apps at over 11,000 libraries.

For the longest time, the ability to borrow ebooks from your local library was one of the biggest features that allowed Barnes and Noble and smaller devices to compete with the Kindle. Now that Amazon has added eBook lending to the Amazon Kindle and Kindle apps, the company has just taken away a big competitive advantage of the Nook, Nook Color and other eReaders.

One nice feature of the Kindle Library Lending feature is that you can take notes in your library books which will be whispersynced to your Amazon account. The notes won’t show up on other patron’s devices, but when you check out the book a second time or if you buy the book for the Kindle, your notes will be whispersynced back to the device so that you have your initial thoughts and ideas.

This is good news for readers, who can also save a few bucks by picking up the ad supported kindle for $114, but we have to hope that Amazon will be working closely with Overdrive to deliver a better user experience and working with libraries to pump up the number of books available.

We’ve tried out Overdrive on Android and iOS and while the system works, it is not very intuitive and finding a book is often an exercise in frustration. In our case, we need to search our local library and if the book isn’t found, we had to search a consortium and hope our book was available. Too often we found a copy in stock, but it was for a different format. Even more often, we had to get on a waiting list to borrow the book. While you might assume that libraries have an infinite supply of eBooks, because they are digital, they only have a limited number they can lend at a time.

My wife still hasn’t been able to borrow an eBook from the local library because of long waiting lists on her favorite books. The problem is likely to be increased when the popular Kindle can borrow from the library and there is more competition.

Expect to see Barnes and Noble pumping up the apps on the Nook Color with this news in mind. We are still holding out hope for an eBook lending service like Netfix that would allow us to pay a monthly fee for instant access to a huge library of books with no waiting.

John P. “Jack” Donohue
President
Massachusetts Library Trustees Association

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12 Replies to “Kindle Getting Library Lending at 11,000 libraries in 2011”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Jack. I think those of us in the library world need to do two things if we hope to have user’s see us as a viable resource for e-books.

    1. Each of our libraries need to commit more of our materials budget to purchasing e-books. Here in Shrewsbury, we’ve just reallocated $5,000 from our print budget to e-book purchases. We are sending that $ to Overdrive (through C/W MARS), even though we know that it’s an imperfect tool. How’s that for understatement! And then we’ll need to find a way to allocate even more. All of our libraries—and even the state agency– needs to push funds to e-book purchases in order to satisfy the growing user demand. And we can’t wait until the economy (and our budgets)improve. Users will have already written us off if their first few attempts with Overdrive (such as the long hold lines described in this article) continue.

    2. Overdrive has to improve, and we all need to pressure them to create a better user experience. Availability is only one part of the problem, and we can address that with more purchasing. The bigger issue is that the overdrive interface and process is cumbersome, confusing and incredibly frustrating to users.

    Sorry to rant a bit. This issue has been driving me nuts as of late!

    Ellen Dolan
    Library Director
    Shrewsbury Public Library

  2. I would add my voice to Ellen’s. Here’s an idea: if your consortium isn’t spending enough on Overdrive titles to meet demand (and I’m sure most aren’t), consider signing up for Overdrive Advantage and buy additional popular e-titles for your local users. The more we buy for our individual collections, the less pressure there is on the shared collections. Who knows if it will work, given the kludgy Overdrive interface? But it sure isn’t going to work with what is available just in the shared collections. If you have some money left in your materials budget as the fiscal year ends, consider starting an Advantage collection. It’s easy to set up and your patrons will use it.

    Beth Mazin, Andover

  3. I recently met with the B&T rep who indicated B&T is getting ready to enter the ebook market. Maybe they will offer real competition to Overdrive. – Dorothy Sieradzki

  4. Ellen,

    You are always forward thinking and I agree. At a C/WMARS quadrant meeting on Tuesday, the participants suggested a % increase in our C/W MARS assessment to achieve this goal of contributing to ebooks on a scale relative to our library’s size. I am looking forward to this possibly being discussed in Gardner at the C/W MARS Meeting in May or at a future meeting. I think this is a way to increase our ebook collection and availability, but in a way even the smallest libraries like Erving can participate. I applaud you for putting such a ‘big chunk’ of materials budget toward this already.

    Best regards,
    Barbara

    Barbara Friedman
    Library Director
    Erving Public Library

  5. Hello Barbara,
    Though I appreciate the need to contribute to the C/W MARS ebook collection, I would urge that we be allowed a little more leeway in how we approach such participation. If I can divert funds from our materials budgets to go to ebooks I am fine and will most likely do so by the end of this fiscal year, but money added to the C/W MARS assessment in FY2012 is unbudgeted. I am currently trying to absorb a difference between my budget proposal and selectmen recommendation for next year, and don’t have a lot of “wiggle room” in my budget to absorb an increase in our assessment.

    Regards,

    Sharon

    Executive Director
    The Lenox Library

  6. Hello everyone,
    In connection with the announcement by Amazon about its e-books, I think it is great that someone has a vision for the future of electronic media. But here is the negative side of it was put by Sharon from Lenox, budgets are in jeopardy at our libraries, staffing cuts, hours slashed and material purchases reduced or have already happened. The financial outlook for the state is not full of sunshine. Yes, there is a glimmer of hope with the Senate and the Ways and Means confirming the funding. As I move forward in budget discussions cuts are going to be made here in North Adams that a director dreads. We have been fortunate as to not be cut in the past years but that is not the scenario this year. In North Adams, we do not have the population that has embraced the electronic books or even have the technology. Hey, some patrons do not have a cell phone or internet connection. So as we move forward through the budget process, we will be looking at every line item in our budget and will be making a tough decision as to if it is necessary to fund at the previous years level. I cannot see North Adams “at this time” allocating a percentage of our book/audio budget or an increase to our assessment to go to electronic books. I need to keep services for our patrons at the highest level possible at this time.

    We are librarians and we do miracles with next to nothing.

    Rick Moon, Library Director
    North Adams Public Library

    1. I’m from North Adams and I know 100’s of people with ebooks around here that were hoping to see you guys have them for us. Of course go figured that won’t happen.

  7. I’m sure we’re all aware that E-books will not go away. While we struggle with vendors over business models, e-book usage will continue to grow.

    I’m in favor of funding a certain level of e-book purchases from our materials budget. I guess the question is how do individual libraries determine how much, if any, of our budget should be allocated to e-book purchases.

    Alan

    Alan Thibeault
    Director, Winthrop Public Library & Museum

  8. Good Afternoon,

    Just when Amazon made their announcemnt about e-books and Kindles, the library’s account with them was terminated. I hope it wasn’t just NPL. If this is the case for all public libraries then it makes it more difficult to purchase titles and Kindles.

    Rebecca Freer

    Director
    Norwell Public Library

  9. That raises a question I have about the recent announcement regarding
    the Amazon/Overdrive collaboration: will Amazon now officially allow
    Libraries to purchase titles directly from Amazon and download them on
    to our Kindles? I’m going to call Amazon and see if I can find out for
    sure and not just assume that it’s part of this new partnering with
    Overdrive. We don’t purchase books for our Kindle (only free titles are
    downloaded) to honor Amazon’s current position on the matter. The
    Kindle is loaned for experiential purposes only at this time, and since
    launching the eReader project at our Library in early March, the device
    has been consistently checked out. If I am able to locate purchasing
    information I’ll be sure to post it to the listserv.

    Lisa Careau, Dir.
    Merriam-Gilbert Public Library

  10. I got through to Amazon and they just confirmed that Libraries are now
    permitted to directly purchase and download eReader content onto their
    Kindles as part and parcel of their Overdrive collaboration. Although
    the ordering can be done through your Library’s corporate account, the
    payment portion of the purchase requires billing to a separate credit
    card (in other words, your corporate account’s line of credit cannot be
    utilized as the form of payment).

    If you have any questions Amazon’s phone number is: 866-486-2360.

    Lisa Careau, Dir.

    Merriam-Gilbert Public Library

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