Thoughts on the Kindle and libraries

I came across an interesting story yesterday about the West Vancouver Memorial Library and how they now have 6 Kindles on hand that can be checked out to library patrons. I was sitting here and pondering the cost benefit analysis of a Kindle+ebooks when I realized there was an opportunity here.

I wonder how long it will be before Amazon announce a new ability for the Kindle: support for Overdrive library system? It wouldn't take all that much work to accomplish. The Kindle is already running a modified version of Mobipocket Reader, so the technical work would be doable.

And given how hot the competition is right now in ereaders, it would be a really good idea for Amazon to add this new ability and boost the value of their ereader (especially if you could access the Overdrive through Whispernet) . On the other hand, libraries would be buying ebooks from Overdrive, not Amazon, so the corporate type might balk at giving away money. It might be more likely that Amazon will simply buy Overdrive in order to add their services to the Kindle.

P.S. I just came across a press release where another analyst has downgraded Amazon's stock. I think that downgrade just made this library feature that much more likely.

About Nate Hoffelder (11799 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on Thoughts on the Kindle and libraries

  1. Do libraries even buy from Amazon? My understanding is that if they don’t take a book as a donation they have to pay full MSRP, or more (in the case of, say, audiobooks). Similar to back in the day when a VHS cassette came out for $100 initially.

    • If they have a Kindle, and it has legal books, then they most likely bought them from Amazon.

      • I read that wrong initially and was comparing ebooks from Overdrive vs print from Amazon. Of course your way makes much more sense, and I’m going to grab another cup of coffee.

  2. I tweeted this recently, but didn’t Favorite them and Google is coming up empty. I said I expect Amazon to do a deal with libraries, possibly bypassing OverDrive altogether. They can do it via a gateway link to Amazon’s servers, which are far less crappy than OverDrive’s system. People could hit a link to download a borrow directly to their Kindle via their Amazon acct. This has the advantage of cutting out OverDrive and lowering costs for libraries. MobiPocket is on its way out, from what I hear, with an announcement of sorts coming before the end of this year. Some libraries — like the NYPL — still offer Mobi, but I don’t think it’d be a big deal to have it go away. Amazon + Libraries = WIN for Amazon. Sony screwed up with its wireless effort, tying it to their store ala Amazon rather than opening it up to everyone (as I expected them to!).

    • Oh, and the other thing is, another win for libraries. At the end of reading the book, there could be a link to buy it and the library it was borrowed from would earn a commission.

  3. Alexander Inglis // 15 July, 2010 at 6:50 pm // Reply

    I’d be surprised to see Amazon try to go it alone with a library system. I cannot imagine many libraries wanting to deal with Overdrive and Amazon to lend e-material. Amazon needs to find some way to get Kindle formatted titles into the system. It might not hurt to acquire Overdrive. 🙂

    Barring that, Amazon brings a lot of back-end greatness and that could be a powerful incentive to Overdrive. In addition, find a publisher-author-library-Overdrive friendly way to monetize the lending process leveraging Amazon’s core strengths: imagine adding in all those Indie publishers who might not otherwise ever find shelf-space on libraries.

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