Amazon Announces Library Lending

Amazon is working with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for over 11,000 public and educational libraries in the United States, to bring a seamless library borrowing experience to Kindle customers.

I’ve had my Kindle about a year-and-a-half now and I get asked more about it now than when I first got it. “Can I check out ebooks from my library?” is one of the top questions people have. Our local library has OverDrive ebooks already, but has thus far had no Kindle support. There are a lot of avid readers out there that still go to libraries. This will sell some Kindles.

To read OverDrive books on my Kindle I break the DRM and convert them to .mobi files. This involves using some python scripts that are easily found online. This is not, however, something I can recommend to, say, my parents or their friends that are frequent library patrons. It’s also not something I should probably be admitting on this here eponymous blog, as it is illegal.

Which is the real problem with ebooks. Ebooks today are still where mp3s were a few years ago. Conventional wisdom among people who pontificate about these things on the internet is that eventually publishers will cave just like music labels did. Music labels were so scared of Apple’s dominance that they decided to allow Amazon to distribute DRM-free mp3s just to create a competitor to the iTunes store. Is Amazon enough of a threat to publishers that they’ll make the same decision? Or will Amazon have enough of the market at that point that it won’t matter? Apple sells music in order to sell iPods (and now iPhones and iPads), but Amazon is doing the reverse: selling Kindles in order to sell ebooks. The fact that there’s a Kindle app on every mobile platform now is evidence of this. Which begs the question: why strike a deal with library lenders like this? Just to get market share, I assume.