Kindle lending has finally come — or is coming soon — to approximately 11, 000 local libraries all across the country. Earlier this week Amazon's Kindle lending programs launched at libraries such as my local spot for free reads, the New York Public Library. Although there are still many unanswered questions about Kindle's lending-library service, such as which libraries are involved, what publishers' materials they can grant digital access to and exactly how patron privacy will be protected as the libraries work in conjunction with Amazon, I decided to take the new service on a test drive to see exactly how usable it is if your library does offer Kindle lending.
I have to say that initially I was unclear about where to go to browse my library’s e-selection. Digital loaning is made possible by OverDrive, which helps libraries manage their e-lending. OverDrive connects Kindle readers (aka Amazon users) with the library of their choice, in my case the New York Public library. So when I was starting this process I was at a little bit of a loss. Should I try to track down OverDrive's site, visit my library’s website or go straight to Amazon? Trial and error (and some Googling) led me to eNYPL, the website of New York Public Library’s e-arm. For those of you who want to test the service yourself, I’d suggest you type your library’s name and “Kindle loaning” into Google and see what you come up with.
Thankfully, once I was at eNYPL, the process moved more smoothly. From their homepage I was able to use a keyword search to find books. Although I was searching for Julie Garwood’s Prince Charming, it was not available in Kindle format. I ultimately selected Sizzle, one of several titles by Garwood listed on the site, and the only book that had e-copies available to download.
From that initial search results page, I followed a length set of click-through steps in order to finally be able to download the e-book. You can read all about the eight step process here.
Popping around on the Internet to download a book is certainly easier than making my way to the actual library, finding the book I want, checking it out and making my way home. But, The e-process did seem a little bit redundant. Over the course of the checkout process I had to confirm that I really did want to download Sizzle six different times.
That being said, there are some really cool features available because of this new service. It’s a feature that is available around the clock. Also, I can access it from anywhere in the world as long as I have my library card and a WiFi connection. And when I electronically borrow a library book and put notes in it on my Kindle, if I ever download the book again my notes are still there. All of these are some very enticing perks to e-borrowing.
In order to return Sizzle to the library I had to go to my Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon and return the book by clicking on a selection from the “Actions” button to the right of the title listing and then delete the book out of my Kindle library. However, a bit of e-sleuthing revealed that it seems that three days before a book is due back to the library, Amazon will shoot you an email reminder. On the day the book expires, Amazon will email you another reminder. And after that point the book will simply disappear out of your library. So from the sound of it, e-borrowing means "goodbye late fees!" — something I've always been able to rackup at my brick and mortar library. (Sorry, Mrs. Peterson!)
So to conclude, because of the long process to downloading or return a book, it’s doubtful that I will incorporate e-borrowing into my everyday life.
However, I think that this service will become an amazing resource that is used to its full potential, especially after it undergoes some streamlining. I think it's fantastic that people can now digitally borrow books from their libraries. And hopefully the ability to e-lend will help libraries bring back the patrons that they’ve lost over the last few years. I urge early adopters and staunch library users to test it out for themselves because even though this service isn’t for me right now, I still say Viva La Libraries!
What do you think? Will e-borrowing be your preferred method of visiting the library?