Date Tags kindle

Recently, Amazon announced their long-delayed deal to distribute Kindle books through local libraries. The agreement utilizes OverDrive, a digital distributor which provides eBooks in a number of formats and already has partnerships with over 11,000 libraries across the country. Different cities/regions have their own sites which are affiliated with OverDrive, so the process will differ depending on where you live. To start, go to your local library, or do a Library Search on OverDrive's search page. My local library had me set up a PIN, and the website directed me to select my library from a list, then enter my library card number and PIN to login.

Once you login and go through the process of "checking out" a book, you will see a link saying Get for Kindle. Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can complete the checkout on Amazon.com.

Kindle Library Checkout

This is where some of the warts begin to show. While my 3rd-gen Kindle (recently rebranded the "Kindle Keyboard" after the announcement of the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire) has a web browser, and I can get through the process of checking out a book using it, the browser is incapable of spawning a new window. This results in an error when I click the Get for Kindle link. So, checking out books from the device is a no-go. This isn't all that surprising as the web browser is still considered an experimental feature of the early-gen Kindles, and I'm sure that the new Touch and Fire models will have better web support.

So, next I went to my library's "Digital Bookshelf" page on my smartphone's web browser, thinking that at the very least I could download the book to my phone and transfer it over to my Kindle since I did not have wi-fi available. But, when I clicked the Get for Kindle link (which sends you to a page where you can complete the checkout process on Amazon.com), Amazon redirected me to their mobile web page, with a one-click buy link and no option to download the book. Had I not been paying close enough attention I may have bought the book rather than borrowed it. Luckily, the mobile browser I was using (Dolphin Browser HD for Android), has the option to change the browser's user agent so that it does not appear to be a mobile device. Once I had done this, I was able to get through to the correct page to complete the checkout. There was an option to transfer the book via USB, but selecting it resulted in an error and a message saying to try again in 24 hours.

I eventually just downloaded the book once I was on wi-fi.

In conclusion, the new library lending service for Kindle is nice, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. For power users like myself, changing the web browser user agent is an easy solution, but a less-technically-inclined user could easily get fed up by roadblocks like this. Amazon had plenty of time to prepare their library lending system and should have taken into account the ever-increasing number of people who browse the web using smartphones. When you have built a thriving ecosystem around the idea that you can buy a book anywhere and have it available to read in seconds, you are taking a step back when you require customers to use a computer (or result to cumbersome workarounds) to take advantage of library lending.