Amazon announced this morning that Kindle owners will soon be able to borrow books from public libraries. Working with vendor OverDrive, which manages e-book lending for the vast majority of public libraries, the deal will make thousands of titles available via more than 11,000 of OverDrive’s public library partners. To date, Kindle has been noticeably absent from library lending, as OverDrive's service worked only with ePub-enabled devices, including the Sony Reader, the Nook, iPads, and smartphones. Amazon officials said that with Kindle Library Lending, library-ebooks managed by OverDrive will now be available for all generations of Kindle devices and for use with free Kindle reading apps on most other devices, including Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone.
The deal is a major score for OverDrive, and for libraries, which have posted impressive circulation numbers over the last year as e-readers and e-books have surged in popularity, and demand for library e-books has surged with it. In 2010, OverDrive reported a 200% increase in library e-book checkouts over 2009, with more than 718 million book and title catalog pages viewed, and more that 15 million digital check-outs of nearly 400,000 titles. Since Christmas, 2010, OverDrive officials say checkouts have jumped further, and are already approaching 2010’s annual total—especially impressive figures that are likely to increase further with the addition of the Kindle, the most popular reading device. “We hear librarians and patrons rave about Kindle,” said Steve Potash, CEO, OverDrive, “so we are thrilled that we can be part of bringing library books to the unparalleled experience of reading on Kindle."
Of course, not every title available for purchase in the Kindle will be available for lending. Major publishers like Macmillan and Simon & Schuster still do not sell e-books to libraries. The Kindle Lending Library will launch “later this year.”