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Re-Kindling e-book enthusiasm


Hi!  I'm Stef Morrill, the Associate Director of South Central.  I used to be part of the technology team, and they occasionally still let me pretend I am by letting me do things like write blog posts.  My focus is usually new (or soon-to-be) technology and how we can use it to improve library service.

Yeah, really bad pun.  But it's true:  The launch of the new Kindle came with a flurry of press coverage and excitement.Kindle

And maybe you've already had the question: "Can I get books for my new Kindle from the library?"

The answer, at least for right now, is "No".  But there is some hope:

netLibrary, our current e-book provider, has launched a program for the less-hyped-but-still-good Sony Reader.  Unfortunately, the netLibrary content isn't for patron devices -- it's for library-owned devices.  Not really what we're looking for.

OverDrive, our current downloadable audiobook provider, is introducing content for the Sony Reader that patrons can download to their devices.  We'll be looking into this service to see if it's worth pursuing.

But what about the Kindle?

Well, there's an interesting story.

OverDrive does provide e-book content in a format called MobiPocket.  Lots of devices, including the Kindle, support MobiPocket.  Problem solved, right?

Wrong.  There are two problems with using the Kindle with OverDrive's MobiPocket content:

1.  You have to know a hardware ID number that isn't accessible on the Kindle.
2.  The OverDrive content is protected with Digital Rights Management (DRM) that the Kindle doesn't support to allow them to only work for the checkout period.

Here's the interesting part: Last year, someone figured out how to hack the Kindle and get around these two things.  They wrote some scripts that made the Kindle work with the protected MobiPocket format that OverDrive and many other sites use.  The great thing is that the books expired just as they would have on any other device.  The DRM still worked!  Problem solved, right?

Well, no.  About a week ago, Amazon cracked down on the site that published the hacks.  This crackdown prompted a lively discussion on Amazon's site.  And do you know what many people were upset about?  That they couldn't get content for their Kindle from their local public library!  Maybe Amazon will figure out that library users would be a fantastic market for the Kindle, and make this work.  We can only hope.

Have your patrons been asking about Kindles or other e-books?  Comment on this post and let me know!


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Yes, this is just the info I wanted. My son just purchased an Amazon Kindle. He got a very good price on it and used his birthday money for it. He is an avid reader and usually needs a book right away after he quickly finishes a book. Unfortunately, it is usually right in the middle of a weekend and the library is closed, so off we go to a store to purchase it. We would have loved to have used the public library for this very reason. Our son is not involved in sports, or many other things, but he loves to read, so we encourage that. With the Amazon Kindle we were hoping to encourage that and the library even more. Now, unfortunately, we will still be purchasing all the books instead of using our library. Shame on Amazon for this major blemish in their system, especially in this economy. Thank you.

Yes! Amazon, wake up and smell the bacon! You have a temporary lead in market share, but this type of pointless gouging is definitely going to turn people off and you will lose in the long term.

I just bought a Kindle 2 and found out the next day that it didn't support MobiPocket books (i.e., reading books from the library). Fortunately I found the python scripts -- if I had not been able to find those I would have been returning my Kindle by return mail!

I am very disappointed with Amazon. I am seriously thinking of returning my Kindle. Without library access Kindle is not worth the cost. I can't believe that Amazon made that market blunder. What an opportunity and they blew it.

Today I took back a Kindle3 that I got about a week ago, since it wouldn't work with library books. Missing a big opportunity here Amazon! Just plain silly on your part . . .

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