[Library lessons] Library lending for Kindles at public libraries

The big buzz lately is that people can borrow library books on their Kindles.  That’s great, but before you stampede through our front door with your Kindles, I thought I should explain why we don’t have this feature here (yet).

First, libraries cannot buy just a few Kindle ebooks to lend.  In order to have Kindle ebooks, libraries have to subscribe to an ebook service.  Overdrive is one of the most popular ones.  The Rhode Island public libraries use it.  It’s really cool, no doubt, but it is mostly filled with popular fiction and popular nonfiction.

In other words, it is mostly filled with content that is not used in the classroom or in research.  While our library does have a selection of popular books, our main focus is on supporting the curriculum of the university.*  We want to spend most of our budget providing access to the kinds of resources that can be cited in a paper or used in the classroom.  Current pricing models make the Kindle ebook collections too expensive, considering they are not the focus of our mission.

However, pricing models change, and major content distributors come up with new models and new ideas.  We expect that it won’t be long before some of our academic ebook vendors have books that can be read on Kindles.  We’re just not there yet, but we are keeping an eye on it.

For more general information on ebooks and academia, check out this post.  If you have a Kindle and you want to know how the borrowing process works, Amazon has a page on public library books for Kindles.

*While we can’t get ebooks for your Kindle, we’re happy to take suggestions for (print) purchases, even for popular fiction and nonfiction.  Just fill out this form.


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