I was super-psyched to find out this morning that the program that allows me to check-out a public library book and read it on my kindle went live this morning for 11,000 libraries. I was even happier to find out that the San Francisco public library is amongst those participating in the program. Yippee!
Well, not so fast…
Here’s a shot of the home screen once I logged in and began browsing available books (of the digital-ebook variety):
It seemed like the selection was reasonable, so I found a few that looked interesting only to discover that for the overwhelming majority of titles, the availability report for most books looked something like this:
And so it went for almost all of the books I was interested in reading. Almost all of them had zero copies available for checkout, and while some didn’t have waiting lists plenty of others did, with the longest waiting list I found being 77 people waiting for a Game of Thorns book. Yowza!
If you are looking for instant gratification, apparently you’ll still have to go over to the kindle store and just buy the book. But if you are willing to be patient, or aren’t nearly as picky about what you are actually reading, then this seems like a great program.
In addition, it is important to remember that we live in an age of fiscal austerity, and I’m sure the library budget for buying books isn’t what it once was. I also have no idea how they see digital lending as fitting in with their mission, and how much of their budget is devoted to buying material in an electronic format. I don’t want this to come across as bashing the SFPL.
So, way to go amazon and kindle for partnering with libraries (via overdrive) to bring digital lending to the 500-lb gorilla of e-readers, the kindle platform. Now, just buy more books for me, okay? 😉