Standing Outside the Library Blasting Peter Gabriel on my Boom Box

October 10, 2011

John cusackI’ve not been the most faithful library patron over the years, though I have made sure my kids have maintained regular visits. I find a lot of value in having my own books arrive at my doorstep or on a device that I can mark up like a coloring book. But my love for the library is being rekindled, and after paying a few overdue fees, it looks like I’m being welcomed back. The library has come to my Kindle.

I had read that Kindle books were now available to libraries via a third party service named Overdrive. I jumped on to the Austin public library website last week to see if the Kindle support was available here yet, and there it was. I browsed the list of titles, and it’s much like the online catalog of physical books. It shows what books the library has, how many are available, and how many people already are waiting for a copy. The selection isn’t huge yet. Some of the recent popular fiction that you would expect was there, as well as a broad selection of non-fiction. Once I logged in to my library account, and, um, paid my fines, I was able to place a hold on books or add up to three available books to my cart.

After a little browsing, I found a book by Thomas Merton to try it out with. The checkout process was smooth, and once the book was “checked-out”, I was taken to a screen with links for delivery. Following those links led me to an Amazon page where I could select what device I wanted the book delivered to. I selected the Kindle app on my iPad. I launched the app and the book didn’t show up. But, I was able to go into my Archived books and find it there, where it immediately downloaded. There is no indication on the screen that it is a library book or what the due date is. It looked like every other book.

My reading crazed daughter was excited to hear about library books on the Kindle, but delivering books to our second generation Kindle isn’t quite as easy. It was greyed out as an option for delivery. The book showed up in my archived books, but wouldn’t download. The only way to get it on the older Kindle was to download the book and transfer it via USB. Not exactly streamlined I would hope that Amazon would update the software to allow for delivery, but they seem to be freezing the feature set on discontinued Kindles. Library books are reason enough for a new Kindle, so the new basic Kindle is on the way.

The most important thing to me is being able to underline and take notes in my book and access them later — something which a good citizen can’t do with a physical library book but can do with the Kindle. All of my notes and highlights from checked out books are available at just like my owned books. This means I can go crazy “marking” and “writing” in library books as if they are my own, and keep the notes for later reference. My limited book budget and future research needs are as pleased as John Cusack fans are by my title.

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