Thursday, April 21, 2011

More on Kindle Lending Library - How it would work. Reactions & Analyses


For basic details of the library lending program, see the original announcement, with the more important portions (in my mind) bold-faced.

ZDNet - Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes had a larger reaction than seen in most columns, most of which just reported details of the announcement with mild surprise.
It begins with  "This is big. Huge. Massive."

Kingsley points out (emphases mine):
' Amazon has built up a massive digital ecosystem, ranging from books and music and audiobooks to streaming movies and Android software, and this move adds another feature to that ever-growing machine.  And best of all for the end user, it’s something that they can take advantage of without having to buy a specific reader since it works with the Kindle app or desktop software.  Amazon is using this to further cement the Amazon brand into people’s minds (and what better way to win over the love of readers than to make it easier to get books from a library?), and establish the Amazon Kindle ebook format as a dominant format, while at the same time showing the competition who’s boss. '

New York Post - Garett Sloane
Garett Sloane at the New York Post reports:
'[For example] the New York Public Library, if a member orders an e-book, others wait on a list until that digital version is free again.

That list can get awfully long.  Yesterday, the most popular title at the NYPL was Harlan Coben's mystery novel "Caught," with more than 275 people on the waiting list. '

New York Times - Julie Bosman
Julie Bosman reports that "...the New York Public Library said last month that e-book use in its system was 36 percent higher than it was one year ago."

  As so many have reminded us, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan still don't allow their e-books to be available in libraries, and HarperCollins (Murdoch) would allow use of an e-book only 26 times before it would have to be re-purchased by the libraries.  That hasn't gone over well with librarians.

From the Comments area of the blog entry on Amazon's announcement
  - a statement by an Overdrive manager
Commenters to this blog have pointed us to interesting articles, one of them a post by Overdrive's' manager for content sales, Karen Estrovich (this link often gives a database connection error). On her Overdrive blog, she clarifies for the company's partners how this would work for them. (Emphases mine.)
' The Kindle Library Lending program will integrate into your existing OverDrive-powered ‘Virtual Branch’ website.

Your existing collection of downloadable eBooks will be available to Kindle customers.
[AB here; Within the context of her statement to Overdrive's partners, this would actually mean "downloadable titles" rather than ebooks in specific format. ]
  As you add new eBooks to your collection, those titles will also be available in Kindle format for lending to Kindle and Kindle reading apps. Your library will not need to purchase any additional units to have Kindle compatibility.  This will work for your existing copies and units.

A user will be able to browse for titles on any desktop or mobile operating system, check out a title with a library card, and then select Kindle as the delivery destination. The borrowed title will then be able to be enjoyed using any Kindle device and all of Amazon’s free Kindle Reading Apps.

The Kindle eBook titles borrowed from a library will carry the same rules and policies as all our other eBooks.

The Kindle Library Lending program will support publishers’ existing lending models.

Your users’ confidential information will be protected.

The Kindle Library Lending program is only available for libraries, schools, and colleges in the United States. '

MY INTERPRETATION of this varies from others' I've seen
Caveat: It's only my interpretation and nothing more, but I think it has a good basis.
' Estrovich is writing to partners who have OverDrive-powered ‘Virtual Branch’ websites for the Overdrive library e-books program.  This is important to an understanding of what she's describing.

The existing collection of a partner's downloadable titles will be available to Kindle customers.

  When the partners add new ebooks to their collections available for loan, those titles will be available in Kindle- and ePUB formats for lending.  No one will have to, to my mind, convert from ePUB to Amazon's mobi format, as some have written -- for the reasons given below.

  This indicates strongly that the titles in Amazon Kindle/mobi format will be available from Amazon's servers directly once the requirements are met for the loan of a title to a Kindle customer.

  It's the only way Amazon would be able to (1) synchronize between the various Kindle/compatible devices and (2) back up annotations for a customer.  This would be done via matching the server's usual Amazon-formatted e-book and the copy on the customer's Kindle.

  The partners' libraries will not need to purchase any additional units as the partners are purchasing TITLES from a publisher via Overdrive, and the partners can decide which format a customer will get, depending on the customer selection of "destination" device.  Again, no conversion would be needed.  Amazon wouldn't be using ePUB-formatted books that are transformed, nor would ePUB books be affected.

  Most important, this would mean the partners' existing copies and units would continue to work, as-is, totally unaffected.

  The reason is that the Kindle ebooks would be handled (and sync'd and backed up) by Amazon servers.  The delivery of the Kindle format books to Kindle customers would not affect the ePub books in the overall collection one iota.  The e-books that Overdrive partners offer will be available in both formats.

 There would still be DRM involved in the library loan but probably Amazon's DRM rather than Adobe's.  I think that Amazon resisted partially because they don't want to pay Adobe for their DRM process when they have their own (and apparently they don't want to switch to ePub).

  This would be a better solution than most had expected. '

An analysis by Mike Cane
Peter Brantley, of Internet Archive --
in his "Reading 2.0" at ("Musings on the publishing revolution" -- reposts most of a typically colorful and on-point analysis of the Kindle vs ePub battle by Mike Cane.

Brantley's alert asks "Does kindle library lending obviate the market need for epub as a format?"
and Mike Cane's title is the more provocative: "Kindle Library Lending: ePub Is Dead"

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  1. Hmm. I hope it means Amazon would make an ePub book work on the Kindle. But I think there in another possibility, related to how the book would get on the Kindle. Right now no one has wireless delivery of library ebooks. You always have to download to PC and copy the book to the device, if you're using one. But if Amazon will allow wireless delivery, they could get an order from Overdrive and deliver a loaned Kindle book, just like do now when I loan a friend a Kindle book. It's not actually "my" copy that gets delivered to her Kindle, it's a copy from Amazon, with special DRM that makes it expire in 2 weeks. If they clone this programming, Overdrive becomes a glorified Kindle user who can loan books over and over.

  2. Carmen,
    Making an ePub book work on the Kindle, when in connection with library lending, does mean dealing with DRM, which would not likely be. I feel (though I may be wrong) that there is no indication anywhere that conversions will be needed for this.

    I'd like them to make non-DRM'd ePub books readable, at least through the mail to [you] but that's probably pretty far off with all they have to do.

    I think your wish that Amazon's transfer of a loaned e-book should be easier may be met. At least I'm hoping so. In the article I mentioned the report that one popular book had 275 people on the waiting list. At 2-3 weeks per e-book, well...

    But in theory, yes, 'over and over' again, but of course you need to get back to the end of the waiting list. But at least you CAN borrow the ebook again! I seldom finish books when I think I will.

  3. The devil is in the details. If Amazon can make borrowing a library ebook as easy as buying a Kindle title, they'll make a lot of users happy. No more need for a PC intermediary. There are questions though:

    1. Does this mean the Overdrive will acquire our Amazon log-in. I don't see how the system will work otherwise.

    2. Can we belong to multiple libraries, i.e. city, country and perhaps a college?

    3. Will we be allowed to check out books when our IP address is far away or even overseas. Checkout on vacation would be fine, but I can see how distant checkout could be abused, particularly for systems with large ebook collections. Get a friend to 'loan' you his Manhattan address, and the NYPL is open to you.

  4. Michael,
    On #1. I imagine there'll be a separate password for Overdrive that passes us through to Amazon.

    The others are interesting questions!

  5. I'd say Overdrive will redirect to Amazon to authenticate with your Amazon credentials and let you choose the device the bits are destined for. I would guess Amazon infrastructure will even deliver the bits (after setting the lending bits appropriately), that it can be wireless or download as with purchases. And when download is initiated, provide a link to return you to the Overdrive site.

    I hope the K3 browser lets you navigate the Overdrive web page and complete the download workflow - hopefully they won't try to open a new browser window, which k3 browser doesn't do.

    Also hope there's a way to return the item before the lending period is up, so someone else can borrow it (as you can in general in with Adobe DRM). Unfortunately I don't think that will be the case, as it would require update to Kindle software - I'm pretty sure there is no latent UI to do this. That's going to annoy Kindle detractors...

  6. Strickly in the FWIW department.

    Anyone unfamiliar with OverDrive's current procedures for checking out an ebook might find the following page enlightening.

    How to Put Library Books from Overdrive on Your Nook — a Visual Tutorial

  7. The last I checked I was unable to install Overdrive on my iMac. Has something changed or will the Kindle allowing library books provide me a way to now use Overdrive since one of my Kindle reading apps is on my iMac? Hmmm.... I do know quite a number of friends and coworkers who were on the fence and now are ready to buy Kindles because of this press release.

  8. Tom,
    I'll add that when Overdrive takes care of the library order for a book title and then asks you for the "destination" (device), I meant whether Kindle or ePub.

    When you're put through to Amazon, that's when you'd choose which device in your account, I imagine.

    Yah, I agree with you that Amazon will be delivering the formatted ebook, whether while you're still in Overdrive or have completed the 'transaction' and been sent to Amazon (and not have to go back to Overdrive in the last case).

    As for K3 not opening a new browser window, they showed they can do it in that after many requests, the Kindles will now open a new window in the Kindle Editions of the blogs so you can follow links from the Kindle even when it requires a new window. They 'replace' the current window. I wish they'd do it for Facebook and Twitter for the URLS within those sites that use new-page-requests upon clicking a link.

    I am pretty sure, since Amazon allows you to return a loaned book early and so does Overdrive (so that waiting periods don't have to be necessarily long), that'll be done.

    Kindle does allow early return of loaned-books. When a loanee returns it, you get notified if you loaned it.

  9. Mr. Booknerd,
    Thanks. My take is that if Amazon uses its own DRM, and Overdrive programs for that, the page pertains only to customers of book lenders using Adobe. But I've read people complaining about the process.

  10. Michael,
    Wanted to say that I should have said that the **Kindle Edition blogs** now open a new window.

    Unfortunately, the Kindle web browser doesn't, as I found out with Facebook URLs at the time using and also Twitter's


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