After an incredibly brief (1 day!) beta period, it looks as though library lending for the Kindle is now live in 11,000 libraries across the nation.
Sorry, other countries. You lose again.
We’ve not really had a chance to try this out, yet, so we can’t say whether the experience is good, great, or awful. We suspect your mileage may vary, depending on your local library’s specific OverDrive implementation. (Let us know your experiences.)
Not that we haven’t tried: Our library card pin number doesn’t seem to be working (and by “not working” we mean: “we forget what it is…”) so we weren’t able to sign in and check the availability of any books.
We were able to do some basic searching, but that was it:
Looking that page over, we’re still not quite sure that Kindle compatible ebooks are available in our neck of the woods. We say we’re “not quite sure” because once you search for a book, the results are a bit daunting. There are a lot of format options but it’s not immediately obvious which work with the Kindle and which do not.
On a more basic level, it took us a while to find the library lending section and figure out what we needed to do to get set up. We were half-expecting some sort of “welcome Kindlers!” link, but…no such luck.
Looks like our libraries won’t be offering OverDrive lending at all, come December. Licensing negotiations fell through:
The proposed new contract included:
- substantial subscription charges to individual libraries in the consortium;
- a 700% increase from 2010 to 2013 for the Digital Library Reserve Server Application Service (platform) fee; and
- removal of language (11.4) that acknowledged consortium ownership of material. Removal of this language also eliminated the opportunity to transfer the materials (purchased by the consortium) to a different vendor.
The State Library was unable to negotiate favorable terms with Overdrive and so the State Library began to look for other options through which we might deliver audio and ebook content toKansaspatrons. On August 5, SLK received “notice of nonrenewal” from Overdrive. The statewide contract will end Dec. 5, 2011.
What we do know:
The content selection seems to be quite a bit more expansive than what you’ll find in the “lending-enabled” section of amazon.com. (If such a section existed.)
Without a doubt, our biggest obstacle is what it has always been: Some of the best, most popular books simply aren’t lending-enabled, because publishers are dragging their heels and Amazon doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to convince them to get moving.
On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that library lending will result in an instant borrow: If a library has 5 copies of a book, and those 5 copies are checked out, the sixth requester has to wait. Furthermore, unless that library eventually buys more copies, 5 is all they’ll ever have.
In many cases, we fully expect that you’ll get books faster by requesting them via Lendle, because we’ve accumulated hundreds of available copies of some titles.
Most importantly — for us, anyway — your local library is what it is: A vital resource for communities when it comes to access to books. (Libraries provide so much more than access to books, but for the sake of this argument we’ll leave it at that.) Without libraries, a lot of parents would have to choose between feeding their kids, and reading with them.
As we’ve said, the very idea for Lendle sprung from a librarian, and we’re rooting for library lending to succeed, even at the expense of our service. Libraries are that important. We’re not sure that the current model (OverDrive acting as a middle man) is the right one, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Of course, we’ve no reason to believe that library lending and Lendle can’t co-exist. We think we can differentiate our service by offering something that libraries don’t seem to offer or aren’t designed to offer — especially online — which is a social sharing experience.
This is something we’ve been moving towards, and we truly believe we already offer way more than anyone else when it comes to connecting our Lendlers with other readers in the lending sphere. Looking to the future, we’ve got some ideas brewing that will make these connections even stronger.
The best is yet to come!
(Be sure to support your local library, too.)