I have to admit that the announcement and grand opening of Amazon’s new Kindle Lending Library made me a little cranky at first. This monopolistic corporation that refused until recently to release any Kindle ebooks to libraries suddenly decides to take over the function of a library, but with a gigantic inventory of titles, and announce it like they invented the model on their own? Grr.
First impressions are just that, though- and a closer look at what Amazon is offering shows that really, it’s not that great. There’s a great analysis of it by Andy Woodworth at Agnostic, Maybe, where he assures us that the Kindle Lending Library is NOT the apocalypse. Whew. You’ll have to forgive me if I seem to be repeating some of what he said, but it seems like we noticed some of the same things.
Here’s the thing. Not everyone has a Kindle or can afford one, or even wants to read ebooks. The big six publishers aren’t happy about it- some of them don’t even sell ebooks to libraries. And the Kindle Lending Library is not available to just anyone. You have to be a Prime customer- meaning you shell out $79 a year to borrow one book a month. That’s more than I pay for my PLAC card(that’s a public access library card), which allows me to check many, many books (including ebooks) out of any library in the state. They might not be Kindle books, but at the rate I read, they’re in and out of the house pretty quickly (well, unless I lose them).
At a time when people are claiming it’s too costly to fund libraries with their tax dollars (and many libraries in this state are in danger of closing their doors) how many of them are going to happily shell out the money for an ereader and a Prime membership for the privilege of “checking out” one relatively obscure book a month? If you already have those two things, and the program expands a little, I guess it could be a nice perk, but I don’t see Amazon driving libraries out of business with this. As alarming as it seems at first, the Kindle Lending Library is not the end of the world as we know it. Yet.