In another crossover between the physical and virtual worlds, it will soon be possible for American owners to “borrow” Kindle books from their local library.
The service has been made possible through an agreement between Amazon and Overdrive, an existing service for such e-book borrowing. The service already has apps for devices such as the Sony Reader, BlackBerry smartphones and the iPad. But while there’s no technical barrier, it’s still somewhat of a surprise that Amazon was talked into agreeing a licensing deal.
Unlike some Overdrive services, which allow Wi-Fi downloading when visiting a library in person, the Kindle loans will be via the respective library website. Lending times will vary from library to library but should be around seven to 14 days.
There’s also support for one notable Kindle feature that’s very much not encouraged with printed books: notes and annotations. Users will be able to add notes to a book, and once the book has been returned, the notes will be stored on the user’s account and will be accessible if they borrow the book again or buy a copy from Amazon. However, notes made by one user won’t be accessible by another user, which is a shame for those of a more curious nature.
Unfortunately while libraries and e-Reader manufacturers have begun playing nicely, the same can’t be said of publishers. HarperCollins, for example, has put a flat limit of 26 total loans (across all borrowers) for each of its e-books from a particular library. That’s the type of licensing restriction that looks ridiculous from a practical standpoint: imagine if a library had to destroy a printed book after 26 loans.