can you loan out a kindle?

Library Journal announced last week that Brigham Young University had received a verbal okay from Amazon to start lending Kindles in their library. This week it appears that they’ve suspended the program until they can get written permission. While I totally understand the concerns on both sides here, I’d really like it if libraries sometimes erred on the side of continuing to do whatever it was that they were doing, in good faith, and let the vendors let them know if they’re not doing something correctly. It’s a little weird to me that Amazon has invested all this time and money into an ebook reader and has no policy about what the legal/copyright concerns are with using it in a library. Can someone please force this issue?

update: There is an interesting story making the blog rounds about just how much of the Kindle’s policies and DRM weirdnesses remain mysterious, even to the people who work at Amazon.

2 thoughts on “can you loan out a kindle?

  1. My daughter has a Kindle and gave me one as a gift (which I ended up selling on eBay because nothing I wanted was available in Kindle format). My impression is that the entire Kindle system is inherently anti-library. The device must be linked to an individual, and the delivery system is clearly set up to make people 100 percent dependent on Amazon for all their reading. They don’t want you reading library books or buying books at Borders or anywhere else. They also don’t want you loaning books to your friends; you can’t transfer a Kindle book to another Kindle owner. If you sell or give away the device you must de-register it, and all the books in it disappear.

    They’re trying to groom lifelong, loyal Amazon customers. That goal is intrinsically incompatible with what libraries are about.

    I’ve noticed that the typical Kindle user is someone who loves gadgets, travels a lot, has plenty of disposable income, reads everything on the NYT bestseller lists, and thinks libraries are for poor people. One Kindle-loving friend told me that she doesn’t read books from libraries because they (the books) have “germs” on them.

  2. As one of the first public libraries in the U.S. to start lending Kindles to our patrons, we were involved with the “is it legal to lend Kindles” debate and I was quoted in Library Journal a few months back about this issue. The LJ reporter gave me a contact at Amazon (director of marketing), whom I called and emailed about this issue. I stated that if Amazon told us to cease and desist from lending Kindles, then we would do so. I never heard a peep, so I assume we are covered.

    To me, lending a Kindle with loaded e-content which our library has paid for is no different than if our library purchases a paper book from Amazon and lends that. Until I hear otherwise, we are full steam ahead. Many other libraries are doing so as well. So, Jessamyn, I am with you regarding libraries erring on “the side of continuing to do whatever it was that they were doing, in good faith, and let the vendors let them know if they’re not doing something correctly.” We did our best to get Amazon to respond.

    And, responding to Steve’s comments, I don’t believe that the typical Kindle user is someone who merely loves gadgets. There was a survey a few months ago which showed that the majority of Kindle users are middle age or above. We have a retirement community in Hanover and many people there have enjoyed the larger font sizes that are available. In addition, someone posted on the Kindle blog that he is severely handicapped and could never hold a book or turn the page. The Kindle has opened a whole new world for him. We need to stop thinking about this as a new, fancy gizmo and instead think about how it can open worlds.

    I am not trying to help Amazon make a profit. Coming soon is a great tablet e-reader from Plastic Logic. Take a look at their video on You-Tube.

    Mary White, Director / Howe Library, Hanover, NH

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