Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Amazon Announces Library Lending. Is it Game Over?

Perhaps the biggest news of the day, sans the Apple blow out earnings report of course, was the quiet announcement from Amazon, as reported by Andrys Basten on Kindleworld, that local libraries will begin placing Kindle formatted books at local libraries - 11, 000 libraries to be precise.  This is huge!  It is a game changer and as I tweeted earlier today, it may be The Endgame! 

The ability for an inexpensive device such as a Kindle to get into the library system and to have Amazon succeed in getting its own proprietary eBook system accepted is not only remarkable, but places Amazon on a path that will be hard to follow, let alone beat. 

To understand this you have to understand that Barnes and Noble has been available to the library system for a while, using The Nook, but it hasn't really caught on.   If Amazon can make this work, then they will have Kindle eBook readers everywhere, from the proprietary Amazon hardware to every Apple iPad, iPhone and/or idevice imaginable.  If you can borrow a textbook in color, why bother going go the library to borrow it or worse, why buy it?  As we can surmise, if this catches on, there will be more books in the proprietary .AZW format.

More importantly, the ePub system may actually die a painful death because of this.  If all of the "good books" are in a proprietary Amazon .AZW (or .MOBI) format, then ePub will become a thing of the past, since Amazon's Kindle system does not recognize the ePub format at all.   I particularly like the ePub format as it seems to accomodate a lot of other ereaders outside of Amazon.  But this announcement could also put a dent in the Apple proprietary ereader iBook as well, since it too does not recognize .AZW.  Amazon will win the format battle.  I have to admit that Amazon's .AZW (and .MOBI) format is quite nice, but .ePub is equally as nice and I would hope that we will still have a choice in formats.  Nevertheless, this is huge and I am surprised that more attention has not been payed to this.

One thing that I will have to say is that if Amazon can get this right with over the air downloads, instead of going through Overdrive on the desktop, they will win hands down.  If you have to be tied to the desktop in order to borrow books, that could put the brakes on the whole thing.  Overdrive is the software needed to facilitate the two-way encryption, DRM and authentication keys to ensure that the book expires after say 2 weeks. 

A copy of the actual news release is listed below and if you get the chance, go to Kindleworld, Andrys Basten's great blog about all things Kindle.

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--(BUSINESS WIRE)--(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”
“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

Reference: Link

Other interesting reading:

Book lending on the Nook Link

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