Amazon announced today that it would be providing eBook loans on its popular Kindle platform through local libraries. Partnering with OverDrive, an established digital content distributor, Amazon says this new plan will allow over 11,000 libraries nationwide to loan kindle eBooks to their patrons.
In the announcement, the plan seems to place the local libraries at the center of the eBook lending scheme. The libraries, through the OverDrive service, will have a digital stock of books that users can download for a set period of time. Though it is not explicitly stated in the statement, users will probably need a library membership to use the service. The new plan from Amazon support not only the current line of readers, but also the platform-agnostic apps like the one available for the iPhone.
Once downloaded, users would be able to make unlimited notations and highlight their eBook text on the books they acquired through the loan program. These notes are attached to the user’s Amazon account, and will reappear whenever the book is renewed or checked out again.
Amazon says the lending program will be rolled out later this year.
Today’s announcement is light on details, though. For instance, on the OverDrive website they list HarperCollins as one of their partners. Readers will recall that this is the company that created digital expiration dates for their eBooks, forcing libraries that wished to stock HarperCollins books to buy the same books repeatedly. Right now, there is no word on how that would be handled under the Kindle scheme. Given that OverDrive works with individual libraries to deliver content, restrictions and policies could be handled on a library by library basis.
Though this is only an announcement, it is interesting that local libraries are involved. Rather than competing with them, Amazon’s program could spur library membership and perhaps encourage users to take advantage of the library as a community resource. After having been implicated in the death of book retail chains like Borders, Amazon’s lending plan, at least for now, seems like a win for users and for their libraries as well.