(Updated: To reflect comments from the American Library Association)
Amazon.com announced Wednesday morning that over 11,000 books will be made available to Kindle and Kindle app customers at local libraries in the United States. The Kindle e-reader will deliver library books wirelessly and make the Kindle app available for free.
It is a well-documented fact that public libraries have been in a steady decline since the 90's, due to the availability of research material online, but also because of students' lives moving from the library to local coffee shops and other venues. The Association of Research Libraries has reported a steady decrease in not only physical attendance but also requests to borrow material from afar. References dropped an average 4.5 percent each year while circulation transactions fell 1.2 percent each year dating to 1991, according to a 2005 report by the Association of Research Libraries.
That's when the Kindle might help
Partially to blame for the decline is the visitor's unsatisfactory experience when using the library, according to another research conducted by Proquest in 2009.
The report states that in an era when libraries are crammed with research material and latest research, "student researchers are turning to Google in growing numbers, not because of it's quality content, but because academic library patrons are often confused and disappointed by their library search experiences."
Students are as likely these days to read a book on an iPad, e-reader, or even on their phones, than to borrow an actual book. Making books available on an e-reader is going to appeal to them.
"We believe it will increase the usage of e-books from public library by a 100%, and make libraries once again relevant," said Carrie Russell, Director of Program at the American Library Association in Washington DC. Russel, who spoke with me this morning, added that Overdrive, a leading multichannel digital distributor of eBooks brokered the deal between Kindle and the ALA.
Overdrive was not available for comments at this moment.
How will it work?
Using the library's website, customers will search and reserve the book by choosing "Send to Kindle" and will be redirected to Amazon to login to their account. Their selection will be delivered via Wi-Fi, or transferred via USB.
Once they pick a book, customers can select "Send to Kindle," which will redirect them to Amazon to login to their Amazon account. Then the book will be delivered to the device. The service will work on any generation Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry or Windows Phone, as well as in the Web browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.