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Kindle Library Lending
April 20, 2011 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Amazon has announced that library lending will be available on the Kindle later this year. Teaming with Overdrive, the program will start with 11,000 libraries in the United States. One of the key features touted by the company will be that users "can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them." Could this be a possible death blow to the Nook?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow (94 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I knew this had to be coming. Thanks for posting this, it made my morning.

My biggest (only?) complaint about my Kindle is evaporating, yay!
posted by Leta at 6:54 AM on April 20, 2011


So, how expensive is this for the local library? And can you do it online via the library's website, or do you have to borrow in person?
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:58 AM on April 20, 2011


My biggest (only?) complaint about my Kindle is evaporating, yay!

Yes, I too have been waiting for this!
posted by muddgirl at 6:59 AM on April 20, 2011


It's via Overdrive, which is available remotely. (I've got Overdrive on my Android phone; it took a while to get set up (and I had to get a PIN in person at the library), and the user interface isn't the greatest, but I can browse and download via the App; don't even need to go to the library's website).
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:00 AM on April 20, 2011


The notation feature sucks because it won't be visible to other readers. The whole point of writing in a library book is to irritate people.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:02 AM on April 20, 2011 [30 favorites]


A cautious Yay here. We loan out Kindles in my library, but don't currently truck with OverDrive.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:02 AM on April 20, 2011


So, did that whole brouhaha about expiring ebooks get resolved?
posted by briank at 7:03 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome!..... but I still like my paper books.
posted by Neekee at 7:04 AM on April 20, 2011


This is amazingly awesome. I do hope that the selection is not just popular fiction. One of the "problems" I have with my Kindle is that I've gotten spoiled researching and reading on the Kindle. After decades of taking paper notes on a notecard while reading, highlighting books and making notes in the margins, only to have to go through piles and piles of books and notecards when time came to actually write the research paper, doing the same thing on the kindle is moving from writing papers longhand to typing papers in Word.

Being able to download the notes you take on your kindle via a text document, then merging that txt file into a tab delimited file and then having a spreadsheet of all my notes...well I can't go back to the notes in margins/paper notecards again.

So if this allows library's to lend me books I need for research in a real electronic format that's useful (unlike NetLibrary's horrible e-reader), then I'm beyond satisfied.
posted by teleri025 at 7:05 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


So excited for this to happen! I know my library system participates in Overdrive, so it's just a matter of time. Just the other day I had my library account open in one tab and my Amazon wishlist in the other, and put physical books on hold at my library. Now I'll be able to do something similar, except get the books right away.

Does anyone know if libraries are limited to a certain number of "copies" of Kindle books? Right now when I want a popular book, I wait in a hold queue until my name works its way to the front of the line. If there were unlimited books, I could read the popular new book the day it came out, assuming it's available for Kindle. Either way, the hold queue will shrink for me.

I was just prepping a post on this myself, but yours is better and more comprehensive and includes all the links I was going to include.
posted by booksherpa at 7:06 AM on April 20, 2011


Meanwhile, publishers are forcing Amazon to charge as much or more than the paperback price for Kindle books.

Sends me to Gutenberg.
posted by orthogonality at 7:06 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been enjoying checking out ebooks from my library but the Overdrive software is a little clunky and not super intuitive (for example, I have to enter my library card number manually every time).

I get the "but I loooove real books!" argument but to me, electronic books fill a niche that I used to fill with printed library books or with thrift store paperbacks, which I'd keep around for a while and then re-donate. And the electronic borrowing system means I'm going to be paying significantly fewer library fines, which is a huge point in its favor, as I am lazy and scatterbrained.
posted by padraigin at 7:07 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this is great news, both as a librarian at a library that just entered into an agreement with Overdrive and as a Kindle owner. But it's not as if the books from Overdrive weren't already easily read on the Kindle, something something, not that I'd ever do such a thing.
posted by hoboynow at 7:07 AM on April 20, 2011


If you can download library books directly to a Kindle (rather than the whole process you need to go through with a nook [download it to a computer, open it with Adobe Digital Editions, copy it over]), that could be the death blow to the nook.
posted by Lucinda at 7:08 AM on April 20, 2011


Could this be a possible death blow to the Nook?

Not while it's the best 7" Android Tablet out there for $250.00...
posted by mikelieman at 7:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


Now I'll be able to do something similar, except get the books right away.

Does anyone know if libraries are limited to a certain number of "copies" of Kindle books? Right now when I want a popular book, I wait in a hold queue until my name works its way to the front of the line. If there were unlimited books, I could read the popular new book the day it came out, assuming it's available for Kindle. Either way, the hold queue will shrink for me.


Yes, there's a limit on checkouts and you basically put a book on hold, and then are notified when it's available to download. But the wait times seem shorter and I've gotten a lot of pretty new books with a much shorter wait than I would have had for the library's hard copies.
posted by padraigin at 7:09 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


My biggest (only?) complaint about my Kindle is evaporating, yay!

The two reasons I own a Nook and not a Kindle are:

- No ePub support
- No lending library support

In every other respect, I would rather have had a Kindle. The Nook is fine, but the Kindle is lighter and thinner. The only unique aspect of the Nook (the tiny LCD touchscreen strip) I have no use for (it seems like such a marketing feature, the touch screen is really pretty bad).

This announcement purports to solve the second problem for the Kindle, but the first remains. Amazon is not the only publisher of eBooks, and I have no desire to have to go through the hassle of converting files to get them onto my eReader. Putting aside the fact that some ePubs won't convert well (from my understanding), it's another step between me and reading that I don't need.
posted by tocts at 7:12 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would this kill the ol' Nook? Probably. The NookColor? I doubt it. I am seriously loving mine!
posted by utsutsu at 7:13 AM on April 20, 2011


The guy who underlined them could have been a maniac!
posted by solmyjuice at 7:14 AM on April 20, 2011


Could this be a possible death blow to the Nook?

Yes, because the Nook is not made of software and therefore is never EVER changeable.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Timeo Amazones et dona ferentes
posted by IndigoJones at 7:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Briank - it isn't resolved. My local library (Boston Public) isn't buying new ebooks from HarperCollins because of it - DBinfo blog post about it
posted by jcrbuzz at 7:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, notations, we meet again. I'm still baffled by the idea of writing in a book, be it notes or highlighting. I remember actually trying to teach myself to do this in elementary and high school. Other people wrote in books and got something out of it, some teachers highly recommended it or even counted against your grade if your books weren't marked up. I really still don't understand it on a functional level - what does this do for people? What do you get out of it?

I'm also not a huge note-taker in general. It's easy for me to remember which area of a book a particular sentence is in, also, which I've learned is not typical.
posted by odinsdream at 7:27 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Deathblow to Nook? I doubt that. There are a lot of people, myself included, who still have a pretty bad taste in our mouths from the remote-deletion incident a couple of years ago. While Jeff Bezos' apology was refreshingly frank, Kindle is still off-limits for me, as the idea that they have the ability to remove something I've purchased is more than I can accept. I've asked the Mrs. for a Nook for the next gift-y occasion that comes up.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:29 AM on April 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sends me to Gutenberg.

I'm currently checking out manybooks.net, which has legal and free books from many many sources including Gutenberg, but many other CC or Public Domain books (including several by MeFi's own Stross and Scalzi). Could be worth a look.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:30 AM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm excited about this! Overdrive is not great and my library usually has loooooong wait times for Overdrive books but if I can have them on the Kindle instead of trying to read them on the backlit ipad I'll gladly wait.
posted by sugarfish at 7:30 AM on April 20, 2011


I can see my local library from my apartment*. The prospect of gazing at my library from afar while borrowing books from them has me a bit shaken. The world is no longer as it seems.

*Close enough to "borrow" their wifi if I so chose to
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:41 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This will help assuage my guilt over my ...erm... preferred method of obtaining ebooks.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:48 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This would be great if it was an open standard that anyone could hook into. Having one company do a special deal is bad for consumers, bad for libraries, and bad for America.*


* Please note, I am Canadian, and don't have enough bandwidth to download anything but small text files so this doesn't apply to me. Thanks bandwidth caps!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:48 AM on April 20, 2011


I want to get one, but is there any point waiting 4th generation Kindle?
posted by yifes at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2011


I hate OverDrive. I told my local library staff about Harper Collins's stunt and they were not pleased. Like blue_beetle said, I can't think that a library is well served by a closed system.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:02 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not while it's the best 7" Android Tablet out there for $250.00...

As an eReader, the nook never compared to the kindle. But yes, if you want the crappiest android tablet money can buy, get a nook.
posted by justgary at 8:20 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The NookColor? I doubt it. I am seriously loving mine!

2 weeks battery life > color.
posted by justgary at 8:22 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll stick with gigapedia. There are always readers that natively support PDF, DjVu, and CHM, unlike the Kindle. Thanks, but no thanks!
posted by jeffburdges at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2011


Good news, my library loans through Overdrive. While I still like reading paper books better, my aging eyes do love the Kindle text size adjustment feature: there are just not enough large print books.
posted by francesca too at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2011


The third generation Kindles support PDFs natively, which is actually rather awesome. (Have one on the way for Calc & Physics textbooks, and from borrowing someone else's, the PDF handling is beautiful.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2011


Overdrive on the iPad/iPhone can only borrow epub formatted books. If I want to borrow pdf ebooks, I have to use Bluefire, Overdrive doesn't handle pdf, please correct me if I'm wrong.

While the availability of lending on the Kindle is a good thing, I wonder if Overdrive will accomodate for pdf lending as well in all devices?

The library I use has a good selection of epub, but there are fair number of pdf books I'd like to borrow as well.
posted by menevets at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


As an eReader, the nook never compared to the kindle.

nook vs kindle - About 1,990,000 results

Sure looks like they get compared quite often. Both use variations on the e-ink tech. Exactly how, once a "ebook" was on the device, was the nook/sony thingie/other e-ink "never compared" to the kindle?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:33 AM on April 20, 2011


Finally, a perfect replication of the only bug that physical books have: It's hard to make copies to give to people.
posted by DU at 8:34 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This still wouldn't sway me to get a kindle, since I've never taken out a library book on my nook but I have downloaded dozens of review books in DRM .epub format, which would be unsupported on the kindle. I love Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab and Netgalley (which offers some kindle support, but it's more cumbersome than their epub system).

However, I still contend that I wouldn't buy a nook were I to do it again--I'd buy a newest-gen Sony Touch. Though the nook classic has improved loads since it was released to terrible reviews (something the device has really never recovered from), their highlighting system is really, really terrible.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:40 AM on April 20, 2011


So what about those of us who don't live in the USA? or maybe a helpful mefite librarian can come to the rescue hint hint. It's easy to set your zone for USA so the rest is just smoke and mirrors ..right?... right?
posted by adamvasco at 8:50 AM on April 20, 2011


I bought a Nook when Overdrive announced they were making their collection available for the device. That way, I could help my library's patrons figure out how to use Overdrive on their Nooks (checking out a book from Overdrive and transferring it to a Nook is not a simple task).

I was sorely disappointed at the range of books that were available. Very heavy on the light fiction, a little bit of the popular non-fiction, and not much else (there are, of course, the copyright-free classics that are "always available"). What was worse was the long hold queues for the really popular books.

It turns out that libraries have to buy individual copies of the of the Overdrive titles. In reality, what they are buying are the DRM licenses for the books. I don't know how much an individual license is, but it isn't free. The problem then is how many DRM licenses can a library afford to buy, particularly when their budgets are being slashed (that's how it is here in California, at least).

As a result of my adventures with Overdrive and the Nook, I would recommend that people think twice about getting a Nook or Kindle solely for the purposes of checking out books from Overdrive. unless you're a heavy reader of light fiction and popular non-fiction.

Oh, and adamvasco, the only limiting factor that my library places on checking out Overdrive books is that you have a card from the library.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 8:59 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tried Overdrive on my Android device a while back and it was a painful experience. The concept of exclusively borrowing text files is... mental.
posted by selfnoise at 9:11 AM on April 20, 2011


Really long hold waits & terrible selection has also been my Overdrive experience with my Android phone; I wrote a blog post about it in December:
The selection is lousy. Most of what they do have doesn’t even seem to be available for checkout. Place hold? Really? On an ebook? (For example: the library has ONE copy of Food Rules, and there are 6 of us with it on hold. In the physical world, they own 12 copies, and there are nine people with it on hold.)
On the other hand, it is really nice to be able to check out books at all, and I love always having a book with me. The next time the topic of ebooks comes up with the inlaws, I'll probably recommend they get a Kindle, since their library system also uses Overdrive.
posted by epersonae at 9:15 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


yifes: I want to get one, but is there any point waiting 4th generation Kindle

This is a good question.

As for waiting for ebooks and all that: if the content companies are going to let you lend it out like a physical thing they they're going to want you to only lend as many as you've paid for like a physical thing. Obviously a text file can be sent out thousands of times at nearly no cost, but if you don't want to follow the legal rules I'm sure you could just pirate them.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:27 AM on April 20, 2011


I use Overdrive, though more for audiobooks than ebooks. The selection of ebooks and audiobooks at my library is not huge, so it's pretty easy to exhaust your areas of interest.

So it's neat to be able to do it, but not remotely a substitute for actually going to the library.
posted by philipy at 9:39 AM on April 20, 2011


2 weeks battery life > color.

For you perhaps. I don't mind plugging mine in every other day when it means I am reading full color comics, magazines, illustrated PDF's. Not to mention being able to run just about any Android app, including some great games. It's not like I don't have other devices that require being plugged in semi regularly... charging the cell phone? Plug in the nook at the same time. Done.

A kindle just does not fit my requirements.
posted by utsutsu at 9:40 AM on April 20, 2011


I know, placing holds on ebooks! How can the publishers not see that they are limiting access to their product which is, I don't know, the opposite of what you are trying to do?
posted by zzazazz at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2011


Meanwhile, publishers are forcing Amazon to charge as much or more than the paperback price for Kindle books.
Sends me to Gutenberg.


Or, now, you could — I don't know, call me crazy — check out the Kindle book for free from the library?
posted by Ratio at 9:42 AM on April 20, 2011


Assuming the book is available at the library. Not all books that are available as ebooks are available in Overdrive, and I'm gathering that not all libraries license all the books that are in Overdrive. :(
posted by epersonae at 9:47 AM on April 20, 2011


The Nook is fine, but the Kindle is lighter and thinner.

I was about to be all dismissive of this point, but then I looked it up and realized I didn't know the stats on the Kindle 3, which is 3/4 the weight and 2/3 the thickness of the Nook. That's a small, but distinct advantage for the Kindle.

But I'm pretty OK with having shelled out for the Nook when I did, and don't see myself getting anything else in the ereader department until something big enough to do justice to 8.5"x11" PDFs becomes much cheaper.
posted by Zed at 9:50 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Assuming the book is available at the library. Not all books that are available as ebooks are available in Overdrive, and I'm gathering that not all libraries license all the books that are in Overdrive. :(

That's true.
Still, last time I checked, Gutenberg only offers about 30,000 titles.
posted by Ratio at 9:52 AM on April 20, 2011


Now if Overdrive would just listen to libraries and improve everything about their crappy website I would be a little happier.

Everyday I field at least one question from a person who is 50+ and got some sort of ereader for Xmas/birthday/whim, and when I start walking them through how to even find a book in Overdrive and then how to get it on the ereader their eyes glaze right over. Once they have done it a couple of times it is fine, but still a really steep learning curve.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 9:54 AM on April 20, 2011


Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone.

Nice. So I can do this with my iPad! I just bought an ebook that wasn't available in the iTunes store through the Kindle store and read it on my free Kindle app. There were passages underlined with dashed lines, and when I clicked on them, the notation said that these were passages other readers had most frequently marked as significant.

That blew me away, because, not being especially savvy, I wondered how they KNEW what other readers who had bought the book underlined (tracking software again?).

And also, though it wasn't too intrusive in my book, I wondered how you could turn the feature OFF. I just know someone will go nuts with the highlighting.
posted by misha at 10:00 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I started with the very first Sony ereader (which had the best reading screen ever) and stayed loyal enough to buy a Touch, which was utterly frustrating. Because of clunky download software, shiny screen, failure to respond well to touch, problems looking up words, awkward note taking, fairly short battery life . . . and more I'm glad to have forgotten So finally caved in and bought the Kindle and must admit it is the best thing since sliced bread. Everything is so easy: notes, blog downloads, reading the paper, looking up words, picking up a new book, the clever light which is part of my case and powered by the Kindle itself. I used to always have a "real" book going along with whatever was on my ereader, and am always listening to an audiobook too, but now I find I am actually preferring reading my books on Kindle to having and holding a traditional model.

This is sort of the cherry on top. I can't wait to see what I can borrow.
posted by bearwife at 10:04 AM on April 20, 2011


It turns out that libraries have to buy individual copies of the of the Overdrive titles. In reality, what they are buying are the DRM licenses for the books. I don't know how much an individual license is, but it isn't free.

But I'm sure libraries will be able to resell some of their licenses once demand for a certain book dies down a bit, right?
posted by inigo2 at 10:10 AM on April 20, 2011


I bought a Nook when BN official refurbs showed up on ebay for $79. Frankly, I bought it for one essential purpose, as a paper book supremacist—Gutenberg (as well as self-published authors and other similar resources). I bought an old favorite volume from BN as a sort of comfort training exercise, in which I could enjoy the familiar pleasures of an old literary friend and distract myself from the obnoxious black flash, the weirdness in the hand, and the lack of multi-sensory feedback, and I'm beginning to enjoy the reading experience.

The Kindle's thinner, nice to look at, and lighter, but there's a microSD slot in the Nook, which is huge, as far as I'm concerned. With a 16GB card in there, the Nook will hold something like 14000 books. If I live to my official life expectancy limit, and read one book every day, that Nook will fall out of my lifeless hand, bounce off my tub desk, and sink in the suds with about 2000 unread books still in the queue. That's pretty cool. I guess I should be sad that there's a lot of new stuff that I can't read on the Nook, but the when the paper edition and the amorphous haze of data edition cost the same, I just don't have any interest in buying the amorphous haze of data edition. Hell, I'll buy the paper one and steal the epub too if I'm that desperate, but I'm rarely that desperate.

I really don't look forward to the library becoming a site, hanging in the miasma, more than a place. Maybe I don't fully understand what ebooks are supposed to do. Are these nifty things supposed to be primarily a shopping/consuming experience, or a little miraculous library that fits in the hand? To each their own, I suppose.

On the other hand—

Last weekend, I drove out to my palatial mountain estate with dog #1 and an overnight bag. I've been off-the-grid there since a tree came down on my power line and slung my meter into the woods like a slingshot (the local power company insists I modernize my installation before they'll reconnect, and it's outside of my budget for the foreseeable future), so I got settled in, tidied up a little, then slouched on the broken-down couch with the dog keeping my feet warm. With a kerosene lamp burning on the side table and the freight trains rumbling through, I just sat and read and the e-ink screen is just so unlike the jittery illuminated pixelmisery of computer screens. I look up to see why the dog's on sudden alert, her preposterous ears straight up, and I don't have that hazy, pinkish eyeball shagginess I get when I look up from the screen on my netbook or my little magical telephone.

I like to think I'm in some kind of demographic, but virtually every picture ever taken (yes, I'm exaggerating) of an ebook includes a screenshot of some goddamn Stieg Larsson cover, and I just don't have the remotest interest in the world in jumping on some current literary fad when I've got 27 pieces by Wodehouse on my Nook. I suppose words are not particularly toothsome to the eye, but still, I'd love to see the Gutenberg Project folks get in with the OLPC people and make a handheld library for the developing world and for us, too.

So I guess I suppose the lending thing is cool, but is it a killer app? Was the brick and mortar library the killer app for building up bookstores? It seems sort of cross purposes to me, but I'm a little slow and a late adopter.
posted by sonascope at 10:13 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, because the Nook is not made of software and therefore is never EVER changeable.

Software that Amazon has shown itself to be a hell of a lot better at developing than B&N.

I have a Kindle, but several people in my family got Nooks back at Christmas, specifically because of the library-sharing feature. Frankly, it sucks. The selection sucks, having to wait sucks, the fact that the books 'wear out' sucks, the dependence on Adobe's sucktacular DRM-laden software sucks ... ugh. I'd need vector calculus to correctly express just how many dimensions it truly sucks in.

Yeah, the Kindle has its own DRM and it's uncomfortably entwined with Amazon, but I'd rather be joined at the hip with Amazon than kissing distance from the steaming pile of primordial Adobe ooze that is required to load library books on the Nook. Because that whole thing is awful.

And frankly, it's easier to pirate books on the Kindle than it is to legitimately borrow them for the Nook. You can buy a Kindle, never even set up an Amazon account, and get all your reading material off of bittorrent and probably have less frustration than trying to use the book-lending feature of the Nook. If that's not failure on B&N's part, I don't know what is.

Bottom line is that Amazon is just better at the e-reader game than B&N (maybe not the inexpensive Android tablet one, though!) ; I suspect because they have a lot more experience with software development. The only advantage B&N had was a number of "marketing features," things they could advertise that kinda/sorta worked and the Kindle just didn't have; library lending and person-to-person lending were the big ones. I don't see how they're not going to get their lunch eaten when Amazon gets around to implementing those features properly.

And if you really just want something that's not Amazon's, there are a lot of generic-ish ereaders that aren't tied to any sort of bookstore at all, and will support EPUB, and a variety of other formats. I don't see how B&N will have anyplace to go; if you want an easy-to-use ereader that's linked to a store, you can buy a Kindle. If you want one that's more DIY that you load books on yourself, you get one of the myriad number of Chinese ones.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:26 AM on April 20, 2011


Fun fact from a library employee: My particular library is in a consortium of something like 20+ libraries that all pay together to get Overdrive's ebook services. This sucks because we all draw from the same pool of ebooks. So if the consortium has 5 copies of X ebook, and we serve 250,000 people (conservative estimate) we can have A LOT of holds on a popular ebook.

Last I heard, we are soon to be transitioning out of this consortium so we can better serve our customers as we are a fairly large district. I imagine smaller libraries must have a hard time paying for the service in the first place which is why we were a part of this consortium.

But yes, the concept of "holds" on an ebook is quite frustrating, but the entire business model of companies like Overdrive and the publishers they serve is to squeeze as much money out of ebooks as possible. What doubly sucks is the service is quite shit in terms of ease of use. You can't check most books in early, the website is atrocious, availability stinks (this varies). The iPod/iPhone app is nice, thats about it.
posted by d1rge at 10:27 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still, last time I checked, Gutenberg only offers about 30,000 titles.

Yeah, by old, dead people. =p

I bought an original Kindle within an hour of the announcement, a 2nd gen and a DX. Then I got my ipad and gave all my kindles away to family members. With a good tablet, I have battery life that covers all my usage patterns (I'm never more than 72 hours away from an outlet), full color, real games that are fun to play, and once I upgrade to the ipad2--a camera, etc etc.

The only thing I can't get from the kindle app on the ipad? Magazine subscriptions like Asimov's Sci-Fi monthly =( Well, to be more accurate, they're the only thing I can't get AND pay for via legit means.

I think it's easier to just borrow the physical book from the library and e-ifiy it myself, than to deal with Overdrive.
posted by nomisxid at 10:34 AM on April 20, 2011


1. Purchase nook color
2. root
3. install the Kindle app (and angry birds)
4. profit enjoy!
posted by Mick at 10:42 AM on April 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


And frankly, it's easier to pirate books on the Kindle than it is to legitimately borrow them for the Nook. You can buy a Kindle, never even set up an Amazon account, and get all your reading material off of bittorrent and probably have less frustration than trying to use the book-lending feature of the Nook. If that's not failure on B&N's part, I don't know what is.

Of course pirating books on the Kindle is easier than legitimately borrowing them for the Nook. Is legitimately borrowing them on the Kindle going to be easier than pirating them on the Nook?

Magazine subscriptions like Asimov's Sci-Fi monthly

You can buy individual issues of Asimov's and F&SF.
posted by Zed at 10:42 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Project Gutenberg currently has something over 33,000 books, but they're digitizing and adding about 120 or so a month, via Distributed Proofreaders. That's not too shabby.

For a while they were a bit behind the 8-ball on getting ebook-formatted versions (EPUBs or similar), rather than just text and HTML, which are readable on most devices but aren't really the preferred formats. I think that all new stuff is mostly getting converted now, and there's some sort of ongoing effort to do it on the fly for existing items.

One of the nicest and least-appreciated parts of PG/DP is that if you have a particular book or other text that's out of copyright, and can get decent-quality page scans, you can start a project and get it OCRed and -- more importantly -- proofread. It's not a fast process, but it's cheaper than any alternative. I'm not sure how aware most libraries are of it as a resource, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:48 AM on April 20, 2011


And frankly, it's easier to pirate books on the Kindle than it is to legitimately borrow them for the Nook. You can buy a Kindle, never even set up an Amazon account, and get all your reading material off of bittorrent and probably have less frustration than trying to use the book-lending feature of the Nook. If that's not failure on B&N's part, I don't know what is.

You can do all of this on the nook, too. Loading .pdfs and epubs illegally downloaded, I mean. And without converting them! What's that got to do with anything?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:02 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Preliminary 'yay!', but I'm waiting to see how well this plays with my iPad 2 (which isn't here yet) before celebrating or moaning.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:15 AM on April 20, 2011


What's that got to do with anything?

Because the only people I know who have Nooks bought them because of the library-lending feature, and they were attracted to it because it's cheaper than buying them. But if the lending system is so complex and troublesome that it's more difficult than piracy, then it's not reasonable to expect people to screw around with it. People (reasonably) expect that the legitimate channel is going to be easier than the black-market one.

And if you remove the library-lending feature from the equation, the Kindle is the pretty clear winner if you're doing the Kindle vs Nook rundown. It's also cheaper. (Although there are generic tablets that are cheaper still, which might be a valid option if you really don't care about having access to an on-demand bookstore.)

The Nook just irritates the hell out of me because it's a totally subpar device, and yet it managed to snooker a bunch of people (including, most frustratingly, members of my family who now expect me to help them use the damn thing and it's awful software stack) into buying it. Depending on their level of computer savvy, most of them are either (1) turned off on the whole concept of ebooks, or (2) now committed book pirates, because they feel like they got burned on the library feature.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:16 AM on April 20, 2011


And if you remove the library-lending feature from the equation, the Kindle is the pretty clear winner if you're doing the Kindle vs Nook rundown.

That may be true for you, but it's not true for everybody. Again, if you want ePub support without the hassle of down-converting to an older, inferior format, the Kindle is a non-starter. This deficiency in the Kindle, in my opinion, is the biggest mistake Amazon has made in a long time.

In all other contexts, the Kindle was the better choice. The library lending aspect of the Nook wasn't enough for me to choose it over the Kindle, though it was a minor point in its favor. But, the notion of being unable to use a widely used, multi-vendor format, and instead have my purchases tied entirely to a single-vendor, locked-in format, was absolutely unacceptable.
posted by tocts at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2011


the fact that the books 'wear out' sucks - I almost forgot about that part...open Overdrive and it says "oh, these titles are expired; they're gone, bye!" - no option to renew, even. (At least an update finally added a display of how many days you have left.) Agh, the more I think about Overdrive the more I want to punch it (or the publishers, or the libraries, or somebody) in the face. And dammit, I like reading on my phone, and I like using the library. These should be two great tastes that taste great together!
posted by epersonae at 11:58 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


My Bittorrent habits have imprinted upon me a strange economic model for digital goods: the more popular something is, the easier it should be for me to get. Justifiably or not, when this is stymied I feel a jarring disconnect between the reality and my idea of how digital distribution "should work".

I came in here expecting to be excited by this feature, but then I found that I'd still have one major annoyance of the library: queues for popular books. I don't have to return them, though, which is a bonus. (When I was younger and less responsible, I actually had creditors calling me regarding my library fines)

On a separate not, Calibre makes converting non-DRM ebooks pretty painless.

Even though I have a KindleDX (The first one) which has always been able to read .pdfs natively, I've recently been running them (and any non-Amazon purchased book) through Calibre anyways. While I lose some formatting, I get the ability to resize the text, get definitions more easily, etc. The recent (this morning) discovery that I can sync Instapaper through it only deepens my appreciation for the package.
posted by Compulsion at 12:07 PM on April 20, 2011


easier to pirate for the Kindle than go legits for the Nook?

So what? If yer willing to pirate, it's extremely easy to pirate for the Nook and it handles more formats. Strange argument.
posted by utsutsu at 12:30 PM on April 20, 2011


And if you remove the library-lending feature from the equation, the Kindle is the pretty clear winner if you're doing the Kindle vs Nook rundown. It's also cheaper. (Although there are generic tablets that are cheaper still, which might be a valid option if you really don't care about having access to an on-demand bookstore.)

The cheaper isn't really the case if you grab a $79 refurbed nook.

But anyway, For other types of legit use, the nook isn't particularly problematic and is fairly equivalent to the kindle. Buying through the B&N store, for example, is completely painless.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:37 PM on April 20, 2011


You can buy individual issues of Asimov's and F&SF.

At a dollar a copy more than the subscription price. But my annoyance with the Kindle app is more that it doesn't support the magazine subscriptions at all. You have to have a physical kindle to receive the subscription, you can't subscribe your ipad, you can't load up saved old editions from when you owned a physical kindle, etc.
posted by nomisxid at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2011


Gutenberg only offers about 30,000 titles.
Yeah, by old, dead people.


Yes, because the young and alive people offer so much better than the old, dead.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:54 PM on April 20, 2011


At a dollar a copy more than the subscription price.

Yeah, but that dollar extra buys you a DRM-free version so you don't have to worry about all the nonsense about which platform it does or doesn't work on.
posted by Zed at 1:00 PM on April 20, 2011


Yes, because the young and alive people offer so much better than the old, dead.

Why the deuce would you quote that but delete the smiley face that clearly indicates jest?

Yeah, by old, dead people. =p
posted by inigo2 at 1:44 PM on April 20, 2011


And also, though it wasn't too intrusive in my book, I wondered how you could turn the feature OFF. I just know someone will go nuts with the highlighting.

If you're on the 'Home' screen there's a little information icon (i in a circle). Uh, touch that, then 'Settings' and then turn popular highlights off!
posted by grapesaresour at 3:12 PM on April 20, 2011


I love my nook (original, e-ink), never considered actually using the lending feature, and for my needs, it's superior to the kindle. It handles virtually any format I throw at it, without caring where it came from, and handles the rest fine with Calibre conversion, which also beautifully handles download and sync from news and RSS feeds. It's e-ink, so I can read for hours without eyestrain, anywhere including in bright sunlight (as you can with kindle, but not nook color). It's not my best device for illustration-heavy material, but it is for reading text.
posted by notashroom at 4:06 PM on April 20, 2011


I'm not sure what the complaint is about holds on an e-book. The alternative presumably would be that one library in the world would buy one copy of a book, and then lend it out, for free, simultaneously to every single person in the world. I'm as "your business model is dead, get with the times" as the next guy, but that clearly isn't going to fly.

If you want the book now, give the author some money, if you want the book for free, suck it up and wait a bit.

As for Kindle/Nook, the Kindle is better (for me). The screen is better and page-turns are faster, and that is all that matters for reading novels. I love open formats, but I strip DRM from every book I buy and then drop them into Calibre which converts them into whatever you want.

I'd love a Nook colour to root and Androidify though...
posted by markr at 5:31 PM on April 20, 2011


I just want to chime in and add to the chorus of voices that hate OverDrive with a burning hatred which burns like fire. OverDrive, from hell's heart I stab at thee! I am completely baffled by how the beloved institutions of my public libraries can have been swindled into paying any money at all for this ridiculous waste of gigabytes. (And NetLibrary is even worse.) I'm definitely predisposed against DRM in the first place, but even accepting that it needs to be there by publisher fiat, there's got to be some way to make the software and the lending process actually usable by a human being, on real hardware that human beings use.

Actually the system that makes the most sense to me might work something like this:

1. I "check out" an ebook via the library website
2. If the book is available, I go find it myself on one of the innumerable pirate sites
3. Once the check-out period is over, I delete the book
posted by whir at 6:21 PM on April 20, 2011


Can I ask an overdrive-clueless question? Shamefully, the only library account I currently have is the one from my childhood hometown and I don't have a card for that so I haven't been able to experiment with taking out ebooks from them so . . . how's it actually work and why is it so annoying? The review programs I mention upthread use Adobe Digital Editions, but all that's involved with that is:
  1. Plug nook into computer via USB.
  2. Download .epub from publisher.
  3. Click on file to open epub in ADE.
  4. Drag and drop onto Nook.
  5. Unplug nook and update shelves.
  6. Read.
And then, when the ebook expires, it just won't open anymore. It's really, really painless. Is using overdrive really that different?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:26 PM on April 20, 2011


The Nook is absolutely the best Android tablet out for its price-point. It's fast enough, the screen res is perfectly adequate, it has built-in WiFi and a reasonably-sized form-factor. There's not much more you could ask for. Even the battery life has impressed me (though, tablets are inherently going to have better battery life than smart phones because the batteries can be much larger).

Nook + Pandora = infinite portable learning jukebox.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:39 PM on April 20, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi: you pretty much have it correct. Where Overdrive creates seething hatred for many is everything else around getting to the ebook. Searching is awkward and the inability to 'return' a book early are two of the biggest complaints.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 6:40 PM on April 20, 2011


You actually have to return an ebook? An ebook which expires anyway? That's . . . bizarre.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:41 PM on April 20, 2011


Oh wait, sorry, I misread.

It actually strikes me as odd that anyone would complain about that, but I guess it makes sense with the wait times. Carry on then.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:42 PM on April 20, 2011


Got a couple of $49 Kobo's when the local Borders was closing down. They're terrific. If you see them around, grab them quickly. They come preloaded with 100 classics. I've got at least a summer's worth of free reading ahead. I had forgotten just how funny "Moby Dick" is.

The thrill of borrowing from the library will wear out pretty quickly unless they increase their acquisition budgets, something unlikely in the current fiscal environment. Currently, they only have 300 epub ebooks at the local library consortium and only 79 were available for checkout the other day. Still, it is wonderful to be able to check out a few things now and then.
posted by notmtwain at 3:51 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this thread I discovered my library already does ebook lending and I can get them on my phone (which I have been reading on a lot in the middle of the night when woken by extended fetal dance parties), so yay!

But yes, overdrive is possibly the LEAST intuitive, MOST obnoxious system I have ever used. Even the FAQ is bad and does a terrible job answering my actual questions as a newbie user.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:08 AM on April 21, 2011


notmtwain, did you really score a Kobo for that cheap? *boggle*

So what is the low end of the e-reader market right now -- I mean, if I wanted to get one for my kid (or several, one for each kid), what would I go for? I want to encourage them to try lots of different topics and formats, and a cheap e-reader would be an easy way for them to graze. And if I can get Overdrive books from the library, then I can put them into epubs for the kids myself (saving them the aggravation).

We bring home several dozen library books per week, and I would be delighted to have the kids consume even more books if we didn't need to schedule a trip across town. Yes, we would still go to Story Time and the Friends Of The Library used book sale and to chat with the awesome staff: e-books would complement the physical titles we borrow now.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:04 AM on April 21, 2011


Low-end is probably a used Kobo or Sony PRS-300 for $80ish, which isn't that far from a used Nook, which isn't that far from a new Nook or Kindle 3.
posted by Zed at 7:12 AM on April 21, 2011


I'm not sure what the complaint is about holds on an e-book. The alternative presumably would be that one library in the world would buy one copy of a book, and then lend it out, for free, simultaneously to every single person in the world.

I can't speak for anyone else, but my problem is with the ludicrously small number of copies available, which means that the number of books that I can check out Right Now is even smaller than the already minuscule selection.

Re: why would you want to return a book early? Not only to make wait times shorter for others, but there's a limit to how many books you can check out. Don't know if this is universal, but in my library system it's 8 books. So if I check out 8 books, and read them all in less than 3 weeks, I can't get any more until the 3 weeks are up.

Even the FAQ is bad and does a terrible job answering my actual questions as a newbie user. Indeed. I don't think they've put it online, but my library made their own "getting started" flier which is vastly better than anything Overdrive puts out.

I am completely baffled by how the beloved institutions of my public libraries can have been swindled into paying any money at all for this ridiculous waste of gigabytes.

QFT.
posted by epersonae at 8:42 AM on April 21, 2011


Yeah, but that dollar extra buys you a DRM-free version so you don't have to worry about all the nonsense about which platform it does or doesn't work on.

But without all the note/place-syncing that's the whole point of living in the kindle universe. My point was more about the limitations on the kindle-app vs the kindle-device, and how even without those limitations, I'd still prefer the more multi-purpose devices like my ipad and galaxy tab. I fully agree that an unencumbered pdf is far more ideal than the kindle-app-on-iOS supporting subscription content.
posted by nomisxid at 8:49 AM on April 21, 2011


My point would be that living in the kindle universe (or any DRM-ed universe) means these kinds of problems are inevitable, and I consider it a good reason to not live there.
posted by Zed at 9:20 AM on April 21, 2011


notmtwain, did you really score a Kobo for that cheap? *boggle*

I did but that was because of the liquidation sale at a Borders store closing near where I live. I think Borders is now selling them online for $99.

It might be the death blow for Kindle. :-)
posted by notmtwain at 6:48 AM on April 22, 2011


I think Borders is now selling them online for $99.

It might be the death blow for Kindle. :-)

I got excited about saving a few bucks on my upcoming Kindle purchase when I saw your $50 Kobo.

But no keyboard means no underlining, no notes, no immediate dictionary lookup, which is a pretty big draw back, to me.

posted by paisley henosis at 8:31 AM on April 22, 2011


Holy shit, good job formatting.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:53 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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