ALA Midwinter 2012: I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but a source at Ebsco tells me that Amazon will soon start offering Kindle downloadable content through academic e-book aggregators like Ebsco, Ebrary, and EBL. I didn’t hear a timeframe on this other than “soon.” Obviously, the Kindle program through OverDrive was considered a beta project. Amazon seems ready to expand library lending beyond the public library market.
As it was described to me, the Kindle academic lending would operate somewhat differently than the OverDrive program, which actually redirects users to affect the loan through the Amazon store. It sounds like the academic plan is to allow a seamless and direct load to the Kindle Fire. Other Kindle devices would require download to a computer and then transfer to the device. That procedure sounds a lot like Adobe DRM-protected files, where an e-book is downloaded and authorized through Adobe Digital Editions and then transferred to a registered device. One assumes that Amazon won’t using Adobe DRM. So, what is the transfer mechanism? Just a drag and drop file management process also seems unlikely. So, I don’t know how much all this is vapor ware , but my source seemed pretty confident it would hit the shelf fairly soon. Looking forward to seeing how it works out.
Reference librarians everywhere breathed a sigh of relief yesterday. OverDrive announced a relationship with Amazon to allowing download of library ebooks to Kindle devices. OverDrive is an ebook service that is popular in public libraries around the world. They have provided ebooks primarily in PDF and ePub file format with Abode digital rights management (DRM). (They also offer MP3 audiobooks.) Kindle books use Amazon’s own AZW file format and a different DRM. So downloading to a Kindle was never possible with OverDrive collections. Public service folks in libraries have probably heard a million times, “why can’t I download your ebooks to my Kindle?” Now they won’t have to answer that question anymore. It will probably take a while for the new format to show up at OverDrive. Details of the roll-out are yet to come.
Many academic libraries, however, use different ebook services than OverDrive. We’ll have to wait and see if services like ebrary, Netlibrary (soon to be called something more Ebsco-ish), EBL, or some of the publisher-specific platforms will begin to offer downloading to Kindle. I’m not holding my breath.