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Library book lending for Kindle now available, Amazon announces

Consumer Reports News: September 21, 2011 11:08 AM

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You can now borrow e-books from public libraries on the Amazon Kindle, the company has announced. The move eliminates one of the Kindle's key competitive disadvantages, since the capability has been available for some time on other e-book readers, including the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch and Sony Reader Daily Edition.

Amazon first announced the Kindle Library Lending plan last April.

The loaned books can be received via a Wi-Fi connection. That makes Amazon the first company to offer wireless delivery of library titles. (Sony has announced that the functionality will be available on its new Reader, which is due to ship on October 2.)

But an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to us that you shouldn't attempt to order library books from the Kindle via the device's "experimental browser." Instead, you should order books by using the better browsers found on computers or smart phones.

Customers will use their local library’s website to search for and select a book to borrow, Amazon says. Once you choose a book, you can choose to “Send to Kindle.” You'll then be redirected to Amazon.com to log in to your Amazon.com account, and the book will be delivered to the device you select via Wi-Fi—or it can be transferred via USB.

It isn't clear whether all of the 11,000 public libraries that Amazon says will offer the service are yet ready to do so. When we signed into our library account at a New York City–area library system (from which we have borrowed books for other e-book readers) we saw only an announcement that Kindle loans were coming soon.

UPDATE: Amazon says, " OverDrive is rolling out the functionality to libraries throughout today and the next couple of days or so." We will keep checking our local accounts.

The loaned library e-books can be sent to any generation of Kindle, Amazon says, or to the free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone, as well as in its Web browser with Kindle Cloud Reader. And Amazon says its Whispersync technology will be extended to library books, "So your notes, highlights and bookmarks are always backed up and available the next time you check out the book or if you decide to buy the book.”

Paul Reynolds

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