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Amazon To Offer Kindle ebooks Via Public Libraries 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the adapt-or-die dept.
destinyland writes "Amazon announced this morning that they're making Kindle ebooks available for free in America through 11,000 local public libraries. 'We're thrilled that Amazon is offering such a new approach to library ebook...' said one Seattle librarian, and one Kindle blog listed out the top advantages to having them available in libraries."
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Amazon To Offer Kindle ebooks Via Public Libraries

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  • by AdamJS (2466928) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @03:27PM (#37471592)
    I presume the service will automatically delete the books a week after borrowing?
    • Re:What about 1984? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Inner_Child (946194) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @03:34PM (#37471670)

      Considering it's just Overdrive, which has been around for a while now, yes, libraries have set lending periods. Mine is a choice of 7, 14, or 21 days. Yes, they do automatically get "deleted" (actually they just stop working, at least for ePub titles), but you can re-borrow them if you'd like. The bigger issue is with publishers imposing artificial scarcity on digital titles, forcing libraries to purchase a new copy after it's been borrowed a certain number of times (in order to maintain the same revenue stream they have with dead-tree books, which actually degrade).

      • by vivek7006 (585218)
        Or you can get rid of the DRM using this nifty python script. http://bit.ly/9zGL5W [bit.ly] Once the DRM is gone, then its a vanilla epub file which works anywhere including ipad/iphone/itouch
        • by jgtg32a (1173373)
          But not Kindle
          • by unrtst (777550)

            Huh? Why not?

            If you're just talking about it being an epub file (which I'd be slightly surprised if the books you can borrow on Kindle are DRM'd epub's, but maybe they are - I'm too lazy to research that):

            Calibre.

            If you're already going through the trouble of running something to strip DRM, pumping that through an format conversion is almost zero extra work by comparison. You don't even need to install anything if you use one of the many online services to do it.

            Not sure why you said "But not Kindle". They

            • by vivek7006 (585218)
              The kindle library books wont be DRMed epub. Instead they will be DRMed version of whatever kindle supports (AZW I guess)
              • And there are scripts (and calibre plugins) to do that as well. So it's no different than before.

                • by Rich0 (548339)

                  Yup. In fact if I want to borrow a library book I can already do it on epub and use the Adobe equivalents to scrub it and Calibre to convert to mobi.

                  If people could get this stuff working with audio doing it with text is pretty trivial.

    • by Inner_Child (946194) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @03:37PM (#37471688)

      On another note: would you rather they didn't expire so you can pay exorbitant late fees?

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      You do realize that 1984 was zapped because Amazon found out the publisher wasn't authorized to distribute it, and thus Amazon was not authorized to distribute it?
      (something about it being out of copyright in some countries)

      It could have been any random book, and they apologized and (supposedly) took measures so that such mass deletions will not occur again if a similar situation presents itself.

      • by Builder (103701)

        And that makes it OK ?

        B&N can't break into my house and take a book back because they didn't have the rights to distribute it. Neither should Amazon be able to.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          See, you're forgetting the fact that the book resides on their servers. So removing their copy took it out of the database. This idea doesn't apply to dead-tree. There's simply no physical analog.

    • by jonadab (583620)

      Either two or four weeks, depending on which option the user selects. (The reason someone might pick two weeks is because you can only have so many ebooks checked out at once, typically ten, although that depends on the library.)

  • With tech tools, the better way to create envy for something you're selling is to give a try to your futurs consumers.
    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      Barnes and Nobles has been doing this for some time now. In fact BN has used this in their advertising.
      • by morari (1080535)

        Yep. It works pretty well , too. The only real problem is that the libraries are stupidly limited to a certain quantity of each book. So if someone else has "checked out" the e-book you want, you can't have it. What was a real limitation of physical books being loaned, has become a gimped feature of electronic books. Of course, it's not B&N's fault... the publishers simply don't know what to do with e-books at all. That's why you see them priced higher than physical hardcovers a lot of the time.

        I'll tak

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          has become a gimped feature of electronic books

          But do you expect the publishers to let the library have an unlimited number of copies for one flat fee? (Flat fee, regardless of the # of copies read.)

          Or do you expect the library (and thus me, the taxpayer) to pay per e-book checkout? I don't expect that there are always N checkouts, regardless of what titles are available. If some new title becomes available, I suspect there are/would be a lot more checkouts of that particular title, compared to total che

          • by morari (1080535)

            I absolutely expect that libraries be granted an unlimited amount of time-sensitive loans for a reasonable fee. Sadly that [i]obvious[/i] and very doable solution is hampered by greed on the publisher's behalf. The publishers wouldn't loose any money. People don't go out and buy books because they're not available at the library at that exact moment. If anything, it would promote sales through both the library itself and people generally being more inclined to buy and use e-readers.

            There is no reason, at al

            • by mattack2 (1165421)

              People don't go out and buy books because they're not available at the library at that exact moment.

              How do you know that?

              Again, "a reasonable fee" for unlimited amount means they get less money per book for more downloads.

              • by morari (1080535)

                I know because most people don't even bother to go to the library (or read for that matter) in the first place. :P

  • I would be curious to see if my library system is on it. And I know damn well that they don't update their website except maybe once a year.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This would be through the Overdrive Media Service... and yes there is a list of participating libraries http://www.overdrive.com/About/Partners.aspx#Libraries . I work for a Public Library that does participate and it is a very useful service. OMS has had compatibility with all but Kindle up until now.

    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      Check you library's web site. All you need is a library card and pin.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @03:32PM (#37471648)
    Congratulations Amazon! You now offer a service that ALL OF THE OTHER ereader sellers have been able to take advantage of for years! B&N, Sony, Kobo, Bookeen, etc...
    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @03:58PM (#37471916)

      Congratulations Amazon! You now offer a service that ALL OF THE OTHER ereader sellers have been able to take advantage of for years! B&N, Sony, Kobo, Bookeen, etc...

      Of course, we don't know what was going on behind the scenes. It could've been analogous to how other digital music retailers (e.g. Amazon) were able to offer DRM-free music before Apple did, because the powers-that-be behind the scenes were trying to weaken Apple's hold on the market.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the big publishers were holding out on Amazon for as long as they could because they felt Amazon has too much sway in the current ebook market.

    • by Joe Tie. (567096)
      To be fair, I don't think that anyone with even a slight interest in e-books isn't aware that the kindle was the only holdout for overdrive. I'm happy it finally happened, while still very aware of the fact that it's been an absurdly long time to get here.
  • Nothing exposes the primitive nature of profit quite like the arbitrary rules that govern the copying of easily copied information.

    As an aside: Somebody is getting paid; library books are by no means free. That is the great deception propagated by social programs: "The benefits are free."

  • I don't really understand why this system should work long term. What benifet does the local library add to a website where you borrow books? I would think you could cut the libraries out of the equation and not lose anything.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The local libraries are the ones footing the bill.

      • by ISoldat53 (977164)
        And the bill is a lot smaller with ebooks.
        • by roblarky (1103715)
          Plus, since libraries are public funded, this may help to justify them when they run the reports of how many citizens are using their services. Much like someone said in the Comcast thread; I don't personally use public libraries, but for reasons of which I am uncertain, I feel they're important and should stick around.
  • FYI for Canadians waiting to borrow eBooks for the Kindle from their local library, I received the following response from the Kindle feedback team:

    [...]

    At this time, public library books for Kindle are currently only available for libraries in the U.S. that offer digital services from OverDrive. Don't worry, our Kindle Team is working on having this feature available to libraries outside the U.S. as well. We'll announce any updates on our website.

    [...]

    ---- Original message: ----

    From the Kindle/OverDrive p

    • If you are near the US border, cross over and find a library with Overdrive that will allow you to get a card (many rural libraries will--we need registered users). Sign up for your Overdrive account on one of the library's computers, and through the magic of the internet, you should be able to reserve and check them out from your computer at home.
      • by AikonMGB (1013995)

        If you are near the US border, cross over and find a library with Overdrive that will allow you to get a card (many rural libraries will--we need registered users). Sign up for your Overdrive account on one of the library's computers, and through the magic of the internet, you should be able to reserve and check them out from your computer at home.

        Interesting idea! If a little fraudulent.. I would first want to make sure there was no way this could come back and affect my existing purchased items. In an ideal world this would be a no-brainer, but this is Amazon we're talking about =/

        -Aikon

        • I'm actually not even sure if it would work. It works between counties (in-state) and part-year residents in other states can use the service, because it's tagged to the library card/account in the particular library where you sign up. I don't know if it would lock you out if you logged in from a Canadian IP address. I assume you would have to have a US Amazon account, in addition to an Amazon.ca account, and you could probably use a US proxy, etc etc.

          The existing system is set up to accommodate snowbird

  • The knowledge of a civilization now in the hands of a corporation(s) thanks to DRM and a society that sold freedom for convenience.
    • It was a society that had no choice; capital must find new places to invest and it sure won't stand by and watch the book market disappear. Indefinite 3% compound growth doesn't occur without some effort, after all.
      Assuming that history has not ceased, we can shape a new system without many of these twisted behaviors, but we'll have to stand up and dismantle the old one first.

    • by Kittenman (971447)
      I suspect that there's some knowledge of civilization held outside the corporation. Well, I have some here.

      I'm tempted to post as an AC just in case Amazon come knocking on my door....

  • Missed One Advantage (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:40PM (#37472486) Homepage

    one Kindle blog listed out the top advantages to having them available in libraries.

    It is an interesting blog entry, that points out a bunch of the selfish little things that blogger gets out of it, but he missed one advantage:

    It is in the long-term best interests of society to make works of science and the useful arts available for borrowing to all. In fact, broadening the reach of such information is the only reason we suffer copyright to exist in the first place. The profit creators are granted through the right of first sale is just a means to that end.

    The amazing part of this story is not the wondrous new opportunity we have to borrow published materials from others after the first sale -- it is the chutzpah of the kleptocracy that kept it from happening on day one. And that selfish little kleptocrat blogger is no better. The point of this is not what it does for you, little man, it is what it does for society.

    • by DogDude (805747)
      How is having "books" licensed for use on an expensive electronic gadget from a single multinational corporation "broadening the reach of information"? Seems like it's limiting access to those who can afford or are willing to spend hundreds of dollars for the latest electronic gadget, and Internet access. Books are universally available to anybody now. This is a step in the wrong direction.
      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        $114 is an "expensive electronic gadget"? (Yes, that's for the ad-supported one.)

        See the recent stories about what "the poor" actually have: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/what-is-poverty [heritage.org]

        • by DogDude (805747)
          Yes, it is expensive. It's expensive for many people. By your interest in the Heritage Foundation, I'm sure that you would find it hard to believe that there are people who are both unintentionally and intentionally poor, for whom $114 is a lot of money.
      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        If your point is that the Kindle is, itself, a restricted medium and therefore a threat to increasing the breadth of information distribution, I can see your point. And I think we are fundamentally thinking in the same context; that the question is not how it affects any person or group of people, or even all people in the short run, but how it affects society in the long run. Since it creates a fiat restriction on the private actions of citizens, it must be justified by bedrock societal benefits.

        If that is

        • by DogDude (805747)
          I firmly believe that libraries moving towards E-Books is a bad thing. Libraries have limited resources, and if they start to move their resources towards "e-books", then they will slow or stop housing actual books. Books are universally accessible to anybody today, regardless of whether or not they own a particular electronic gadget. It would be a step backwards to make information available largely to those who have enough money to access it.
    • by blarkon (1712194)
      The reason that Open Source documentation is generally rubbish is that it's almost impossible to make a buck writing it. No bucks = no sustained effort. It you're happy for the majority of all textbooks to be written at the level of Open Source documentation, then by all means get rid of copyright and make it highly problematic for people to make a profession out of the production of textbooks. Your enlightened libetarian fantasy society won't happen if all the books are poorly written amateur screeds.
  • My local library has been offering ebook lending for several years. They recommend Overdrive but the drm is just Adobe so you can use any ebook reader which supports adobe drm. You download the book in encrypted format and you get a time limited license which allows you to read it. After the 3 week lending period expires you cannot read the book anymore. There also seems to be a lockout in place so that only a one person can read a given ebook at a time. That sounds pretty silly but I guess it is a requirem

  • There is such an incredible degree of irony in all this. Libraries were created with the idea that information should be free, but due to the physical cost of the book, we could only check books out for a small time. Now ebooks can be created for free, and we are doing the best we can to make sure they don't get too free. Its time to deal with the practically unbounded copy-write law, and make our libraries just websites that let you download public domain books.

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