Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kindle Goes to the Library

Young Kindle is getting a library card -- at 11,000 libraries. Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced Kindle Library Lending on Wednesday. The new feature, which launches later this year, will let Kindle customers borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will work on all generations of Kindle devices and Kindle reading apps...

Libraries don't get talked about much in connection with ebooks, King noted, but they may provide an untapped swarm of e-book fans.

"The 11,000 branches -- in the United States alone -- provide a valuable interface between publishers and the reading public," said King. "Making e-books available on the market's preeminent e-reader should be good news for everyone."

This could be a way for Amazon to prepare for future e-book battles with other popular readers such as the iPad.

"This is a classic example of strategic market cultivation for Amazon and publishers, so its short term economic value is hard to quantify," said King. "In a publishing market that's under increasing stress, that could be considered a downside. Some may also see the move by Amazon as indicating the company is feeling growing pressure from tablets -- especially the iPad."

Kindle Could Lock Down Libraries

The Kindle is one of the best selling e-readers, and Amazon's name is already closely associated with e-books. This move could further solidify its position.

"This was one of the primary reasons heavy readers that didn't yet have a Kindle had for not buying one," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. "Amazon wants to be THE company when it comes to e-book readers, and that means it can't just be for purchased content, but borrowed content as well. Eventually, they will have to deal with people that want to pass books around as well, though that is going to be a difficult balancing act."

There isn't much good in this news for book publishers, observed Enderle -- except that libraries help to keep reading alive.

"I think most book publishers would just as soon have libraries as a concept become extinct, but that isn't happening," he said. "However, strategically there is a concern that reading will decline, and libraries are a lot of what keeps reading a viable market. By supporting libraries, publishers better ensure that there will be a need for books in the future."

With e-books, writers have the ability to deliver their books directly to their readers via downloads.

"E-books increasingly have me wondering whether publishers won't go into somewhat of a decline as writers increasingly bypass them," said Enderle...

Amazon Kindles Enthusiasm of Library Crowd
Rob Spiegel

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