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Amazon to Launch Library Lending for Kindle Books

This is potentially good news. Read it but I have a few important questions below.

Amazon to Launch Library Lending for Kindle Books

Customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 local libraries to read on Kindle and free Kindle reading apps
Whispersyncing of notes, highlights and last page read to work for Kindle library books

SEATTLE, Apr 20, 2011 —

“(NASDAQ: AMZN)– 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.

“We’re excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries,” said Jay Marine, Director, Amazon Kindle. “Customers tell us they love Kindle for its Pearl e-ink display that is easy to read even in bright sunlight, up to a month of battery life, and Whispersync technology that synchronizes notes, highlights and last page read between their Kindle and free Kindle apps.”

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.”

With Kindle Library Lending, customers can take advantage of all of the unique features of Kindle and Kindle books, including:

• Paper-like Pearl electronic-ink display
• No glare even in bright sunlight
• Lighter than a paperback – weighs just 8.5 ounces and holds up to 3,500 books
• Up to one month of battery life with wireless off
• Read everywhere with free Kindle apps for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry and Windows Phone
• Whispersync technology wirelessly sync your books, notes, highlights, and last page read across Kindle and free Kindle reading apps
• Real Page Numbers – easily reference passages with page numbers that correspond to actual print editions

Amazon is working with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for over 11,000 public and educational libraries in the United States, to bring a seamless library borrowing experience to Kindle customers. “We are excited to be working with Amazon to offer Kindle Library Lending to the millions of customers who read on Kindle and Kindle apps,” said Steve Potash, CEO, OverDrive. “We hear librarians and patrons rave about Kindle, so we are thrilled that we can be part of bringing library books to the unparalleled experience of reading on Kindle.”

Kindle Library Lending will be available later this year for Kindle and free Kindle app users. To learn more about Kindle go to”

So, this is very interesting and congratulations to Overdrive for once again negotiating compromise solutions to getting a more seamless solution for using e-books in libraries.

Before we get too excited let’s ask a few questions (I don’t know the answers):

1. Does your library need an Overdrive subscription? Do the e-books need to be purchased through Overdrive and/or Amazon?
2. Can the Kindle now read all library e-books (or at least PDF and ePub) or is this still limited to the proprietary and limiting .mobi/AZW format? (I hear that it is mobi/AZW only.)
3. How are library patron privacy rights protected in the sharing of bookmarks and notes (or indeed use)?
4. The press release says “Kindle books” not e-books. Are the e-books available for customer purchase through Amazon now available to load into local library collections for searching? How about MARC records for the collection? (Oooooooh – Can libraries now get e-books from those publishers that don’t let libraries have them (e.g. Simon & Schuster or Macmillan)
5. And what are the licensing rights and restrictions in using Kindle books through the library?

Update: It is based on the Kindle leading feature. “Unlike Amazon’s current ebook lending feature, which only allows users to lend books for a single two-week period, Kindle Library Lending allows users to check out books multiple times. Users’ annotations and bookmarks will be preserved between checkouts using Whispersync.”

Update: There appears to be no news yet on lending policies like loan periods, renewals, or any limits on number of copies borrowed at a time.

Update: Apparently the ebooks will be compatible with any OPAC that can use Overdrive. And it does add a third format to the Overdrive offerings. LJ: “”The lending will be available for all generations of the Kindle as well as Kindle reading apps, and it will integrate with all the existing ebook catalogs in the United States powered by OverDrive. In other words, the libraries-including schools, colleges and public libraries-will not have to add a new format, and the ebooks now available on the OverDrive sites will be immediately integrated with the Kindle, Dan Stasiewski, a marketing associate with OverDrive, told LJ.””

When folks get answers, just put them in the comments. Thanks.

It is interesting that the publisher (vs librarian) blogs are picking up on this announcement the fastest. Here’s a few samples.

Amazon To Offer Library eBooks on Kindle

Library eBooks Coming to the Kindle

Ebook Lending to Local Libraries

Soon You’ll Be Borrowing Kindle Ebooks From Your Local Library [Ebooks]

Kindle Library Book support in 2011 – Overdrive powered Kindle Library Books

LJ Amazon to Allow Library Lending of Kindle Books

After Kindle Lending, the Deluge

Questions we should be asking about Kindle Library Lending

InfoDocket Update: A Few Answers From OverDrive About Lending Program

Kindle Library Lending

Amazon Unveils Kindle Lending With 11,000 Libraries: Does This Mark The End Of The Local Library?

The ability to lend books on reading devices has been available for many years. It will be almost three years by the time this Kindle feature arrives in libraries for Amazon to catch up. At a minimum an argument could be made that Amazon is using their device’s market share to promote an e-book standard that is really only used by Amazon and to gain retail market share against others (epub and PDF are international standards that the Kindle does not support). Are they placating libraries to gain access to our users?

Just asking.


Posted on: April 20, 2011, 11:16 am Category: Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. Nothing about Canadian libraries. We contract with OverDrive USA, shouldn’t we have access too?

  2. Pinkerton said

    This is potentially good news as long as it supports the epub format. We have seen a number of patrons who got a Kindle for Christmas, or bought one on their own. When they ask us about Overdrive, we have to break the news that their devices don’t work with it.

  3. INFOAssist said

    Not in Canada? Pity!
    April 20 /11 2:40 PM

  4. I assume the not in Canada thing is a temporary rights issue. The devices had a lag of many months to be launched here in Canada. Then again, we still can’t do Pandora here.

  5. Amazing1 said

    Pinkerton: Do you honestly think no one thought of that prior to implementing this program? Really?

  6. Actually Amazing1, the answer is that this program does NOT support EPUB on the Kindle so if Amazon thought of of it, they decided to not allow non-Kindle books on the Kindle. Again using their market dominance to disrupt the open marketplace with format exclusions.

  7. I suspect the issue is that there are different book importation and licensing laws in Canada that may take a long while to iron out.

  8. Jenny Reiswig said

    I’m hoping they’ll also put together ways for academic customers to borrow books in Kindle format. I don’t see us really jumping onto Overdrive.