Amazon has been talking of library lending for its Kindle product line since April and its finally rolling it out in beta mode to select libraries, namely Seattle Public Library and King County Library System. Amazon is working with OverDrive in this venture, the company that has helped many local libraries enter the digital arena. Neither company has made an official announcement but library members are already downloading eBooks from the libraries which have stock in thousands. The service will eventually roll out to 11,000 libraries.
Bill Ptacek, director of the King County Library System, that began offering the service on Monday is excited about the Kindle Library Lending program as many library members own Kindles and have been asking for the service since a long time. King County already has a digital lending system in place with other partners and has seen lending grow 150% over the last year.
Ptacek believes that Amazon Kindle will bring a huge surge in Kindle book lending as the device will make the process very simple. Right now, you have to go to the library’s website, select a book, login to your Amazon account and redeem your loan for the book to be transferred to your Kindle library for the duration of the loan. Three days before the term expires, you get a reminder email from Amazon.
The libraries will keep a limited number of copies of each title; it’s not going to be unlimited simply because its digital. Seattle’s online catalog includes around 25,000 Kindle eBooks and the county library lists 11,815 titles. The eBooks can be downloaded on devices and apps (Kindle, B&N, library’s own apps) and are available in ePub and Kindle format. Downloading only works on WiFi or USB transfer from PC, not 3G.
Amazon is also using this opportunity to pitch its offers to customers with ads and reading suggestions. As libraries join the Kindle Lending program, Amazon will have access to member profiles and will expand its customer database on that basis. That’s more dollars for the e-commerce giant.
Own a Kindle and want to see how library lending works? Check this link on Seattle Times.