If you're a Kindle user, this is the day you've been waiting for.
The popular e-book reader from Amazon is now compatible with library books. The Salt Lake County Library System, the state's largest library network with 18 libraries, is now lending out electronic versions of books that can be read on the Kindle.
"It's a big deal," said Marsha Leclair-Marzolf, associate director for the Salt Lake County Library System. "We're happy we can lend to Kindles. We think that's a great customer service, and we will try to keep up with the demand as the budget allows it."
OverDrive, the country's largest supplier of digital books for libraries, which services Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, the state's Pioneer Utah Online Library, and the Granite School District library system, announced that its catalog of 600,000 books is now available for the Kindle.
"The Kindle has been the No. 1 request by far," said OverDrive's David Burleigh.
Of those Utah library networks that use Overdrive, only Salt Lake County's system had made them available Wednesday for the Kindle. The rest should be available "within days," Burleigh said.
The books can be downloaded directly to the Kindle wirelessly by first choosing and borrowing them through a desktop computer or with a full-featured browser on a tablet like the iPad. You also can check out the books through an OverDrive app available for both the iPhone and Android phones. Once the book is checked out, it is then automatically transferred wirelessly to the Kindle.
"I was really happy with how easy it was," Draper Library manager Danette Hantla said about the process. "Sometimes our patrons run into a wall because the transferring of books is a little bit difficult. But with this, you can do it remotely, and in seconds it goes through to your device, and they're there waiting for you."
The Salt Lake County Library says it has about 20,000 e-books available on loan. But like regular books, each copy is checked out by one person at a time, meaning they have a limited supply of each title. But, "we bought additional titles in anticipation of this," said Leclair-Marzolf.
The patron can check out many of the books for one to three weeks at a time, and they are automatically locked on the system when they expire. To check out a book, patrons first must go to the Salt Lake County Library website at http://www.slcolibrary.org.
E-readers like the Kindle, Nook and Sony reader have become one of the most popular electronic gadgets this year. So far the Apple iPad, which does more than just display books, has sold more than 20 million units (the iPad also can read Kindle-compatible books through a free Kindle app on the iTunes App Store).
While Amazon has not officially released sales on the Kindle, industry analyst Forrester Research estimated last year that 4 million Kindles had been sold by the middle of 2010. According to MediaPost, the Kindle holds 59 percent of the e-reader market, compared to 11 percent for the Nook and 5 percent for the Sony e-reader. The latest version of the Kindle now sells for as little as $114.
While the Nook and Sony e-readers have been compatible with library books for some time, the Kindle has not because of the proprietary copy protection that Amazon uses on the books to protect them from piracy.
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How to check out a book for the Kindle
You can check out a book from the Salt Lake County Library System for your Kindle with these steps.
1. On a desktop computer, go to http://www.slcolibrary.org on your browser.
2. Click on "Reader's Cafe" on the top menu.
3. In the left menu, click on "Books on the Go," then "eÂBooks."
4. Under eBooks in the middle, click on "OverDrive popular eBooks."
5. A new window will come up with a list of books to check out. On the left hand side, however, click on "Library eBooks for Kindle."
6. Here you will see an alphabetized list of books for checkout. Books also are searchable at the top.
7. Once you find a book, click "Add to Digital Book Cart" (for Kindle) to check it out. Then click "Proceed to Checkout." Input your library card number and PIN.
8. You may have a choice for how long to check it out. Click "Confirm Check Out." Then click on the "Get for Kindle" button.
9. A new page comes up from Amazon. Make sure you have an Amazon account (a Kindle owner already should have one). Then click the "Get Library Book" button on the right. The book will now be transferred to your Kindle.