Amazon Kindle Library Lending Program Launches Into Quiet Beta

As reported earlier this year, Amazon and digital content distribution service OverDrive are teaming up to bring Kindle library lending to thousands of public libraries across the U.S. That partnership, rumored to be launching this month, has apparently now gone live in select locations.

According to postings on Amazon’s Kindle Forum, some users are already seeing this option in the Seattle area. A page on Amazon’s website describing the new service has also gone live.

Thanks to the partnership, library patrons will be able to check out e-books from their local library on all Kindle models (Kindle 3, Kindle 2, Kindle 1 and Kindle DX) as well as through platform apps, including the Kindle Cloud Reader. Books are downloaded over Wi-Fi or USB, but 3G will not be supported. Amazon’s “Whispersync” technology will also preserve digital notes and bookmarks in case you later buy the book from Amazon or check it out a second time.

From Amazon’s new “Public Library Books for Kindle” instructional page, the service works as follows:

  • Visit the website of a U.S. library that offers digital services from OverDrive.
  • Check out a Kindle book (library card required).
  • Click on “Get for Kindle.” You will then be directed to to redeem your public library loan. You may be required to login to your account — or create a new account — if you’re not already logged in.
  • Choose to read the book on your Kindle device, free reading app, or Kindle Cloud Reader.

In forum postings, users are complaining that the EPUB format is not being supported in favor of Amazon’s proprietary AZW e-book format. Amazon’s “How To” page detailing how to transfer files to the Kindle also confirms this, stating “EPUB eBooks are not supported on Kindle.”

In what appears to be a quiet beta testing period, the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System are currently offering the Kindle lending program. The service will eventually become available to 11,000 libraries across the U.S.

Amazon advises users to “check with your local library for more information about borrowing Kindle books or to see what books are available.”

Source: Seattle Public Library, King County Public Library, Amazon forums; via The eBook Reader