Amazon unveils overdue Kindle Library Lending

Playing catch-up with the Nook and the Sony Reader, Amazon says it will let customers borrow books from over 11,000 local libraries in the U.S. starting later this year.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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Library lending is coming to the Kindle.
Library lending is coming to the Kindle. Amazon

Amazon's Kindle will finally support library lending, the company announced today.

Later this year, Kindle owners and those who run Amazon's Kindle apps will be able to borrow books from over 11,000 local libraries. In addition, Amazon says, users will be able to make annotations and highlight text. All of that content is saved and will be included in the e-book if the user opts to check it out again.

"We're doing a little something extra here," Jay Marine, Amazon's Kindle director said in a statement. "Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're extending our Whispersync technology so that you 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, perfectly Whispersynced."

The addition of library loaning to the Kindle is a key addition for Amazon. Currently, Kindle owners can lend some e-books to other users for a period of 14 days. As with Amazon's latest Library Lending option, recipients can access the loaned books on their Kindle devices or via any of the company's many Kindle applications.

The earlier lack of library lending for the Kindle had proven to be a deal-breaker for prospective e-reader buyers. That service has been available for quite some time on other devices including the Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony's Reader.

Earlier this year, CNET's David Katzmaier acknowledged that he is one of the folks who opted against buying a Kindle because it lacked support for library lending. Many libraries around the U.S. use the EPUB format for their e-book needs. Both the Reader and the Nook both support that option. Katzmaier was able to check out some books from his local library, download Adobe Digital Editions, the software that his local branch requires, and drag-and-drop the options to his Sony Reader.

To finally match the competition in library lending, Amazon has enlisted the help of OverDrive, which works with the aforementioned 11,000 libraries around the U.S.

OverDrive might sound familiar to iPad and iPhone owners. The company currently offers its Media Console app for the iOS-based devices, allowing users to download e-books from their local libraries for free.

Amazon said that Kindle Library Lending will be available later this year.