For many, the inability to borrow ebooks from libraries was one of the main reasons not to buy the Kindle, but Amazon has now reversed its decision – in the US at least.
Amazon has announced it will allow Kindle owners to borrow ebooks from over 11,000 public libraries in the States as part of its Kindle Library Lending service. And the service 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 will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app. While details on exactly how the service will work, Amazon did say that if a Kindle book is checked out again or is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer's annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.
The service will be up-and-running later this year and Amazon is currently working with OverDrive, who provide digital content solutions to libraries in the States, to create “a seamless library borrowing experience” for Kindle users. Of course owners of other ebook readers such as the Nook or the Sony Reader have been able to borrow ebooks from libraries since 2009. It was inevitable that Amazon would eventually have to play ball and librarians across America who are constantly asked about Kindle, will no doubt be relieved. “We’ve been waiting for Amazon to play ball with libraries since they came out with the Kindle,” Bobbi Newman, manager at the Richland County Public Library in Columbia, told the New York Times. “Even Amazon can’t overlook us anymore.”
Lending of sorts it already available on the Kindle, and last month we reported that Lendle, one of a number of ebook lending services for the Kindle that had sprouted up recently, was shut down by Amazon only to be reinstated after it disabled its Book Sync feature.
Details of how the system will work are still obviously being finalised but what Kindle owners on this side of the Atlantic will want to know is if it will be rolling out to the rest of the world. We saw last month that Amazon’s Cloud Drive, online music streaming and storage service, was also only available in the US, but we remain hopeful that these services will come to the UK sooner rather than later.