Today Amazon announced that Kindle owners will finally be able to read eBooks from their local libraries on the device. A similar service for eReaders compatible with ePUB books — Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and more — has been available since 2009. Now that Amazon is getting into the game, millions more customers will have access to easy digital library lending.
Kindle library lending has a big advantage over current systems, many powered by OverDrive, because Amazon is allowing libraries to take advantage of WhisperSync. Once you’ve borrowed a book through the library’s website, users can then send it to their Kindles wirelessly — no need to transfer via USB, though that option is available, too. You’ll be able to read books on any Kindle device and via any Kindle app for phones, tables, and computers.
Getting library books onto a Sony Reader or Nook is an involved process, requiring the download of an extra program and creating yet another ID and password to keep up with in life. Once you’ve set it up it’s easy to do, but not as simple as wireless transfer. Plus, the files didn’t behave the same way as native eBooks and thus had some limitations.
With Amazon, library books work the same as any Kindle book, with all the extras and features intact. Users can add notes, bookmarks, and highlights. These will also sync to the web interface and other apps. If you return the book then borrow it again, your markups will show up once more. Plus, they’re also exportable. Popular highlights and public notes will show up in library books as well.
The Real Page Numbers feature will also apply, making it much easier to use these books for study purposes. Sharing passages to Facebook and Twitter is a nice way to make your parents and teachers think you’re studying hard.
Amazon says that over 11,000 local libraries are participating in this program, but doesn’t list any of them. To find out if your local library is lending books to Kindle you’ll have to visit their website or ask a librarian. I’d love to hear from any librarians about how well the process works.
This service is available starting today.