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Borrowing from the Library Without Leaving My Chair

I got an Amazon Kindle this week, and took advantage of the ability to borrow from the Anne Arundel County Public Library System.

I suppose it was only a matter of time.

Since I spend my days editing an online-only news outlet, it was only natural that I'd eventually also ditch traditional books in favor of an e-reader. 

This week, I became the proud owner of an Amazon Kindle.

I had some gift money left over from Christmas, so figured it'd be a good time to give the gadget a try. I got the $69 bare-boned version.

I like to read, but have always had affection for physical books. I grew up on them in shelves in my home. I like to browse bookstores in search of treasures. I enjoy taking books out of the library and also like grabbing used books for super-cheap.

Would the Kindle take away from that whole experience? I was reluctant, but could definitely see the advantage of having an e-reader. They're perfect for traveling, and there's no need to store books in my already cluttered house. Plus, I can buy or borrow them while at home in my pajamas, and receive them instantly.

So far, the experience has been enjoyable, and I have been generally pleased with the ability to borrow e-books from the Anne Arundel County Library System. 

It's worth noting that the system for borrowing e-books is not entirely streamlined. If you go to the library system webpage, you must find the link marked "elibrary," and that will bring you a menu of choices. There are several places to borrow books, but the best choice appears to be the Maryland Digital Library Consortium. You can go also to the consortium directly by going to maryland.lib.overdrive.com

To borrow books, you'll need a library card number from one of the public library systems in the state. Each system purchases e-books just as it does hard copies; there are a limited number to go around. 

While on some level it seems counterintuitive that there would be a limited number of "electronic" books, but that's the economics of it. Publishers still need to make money off the deal. 

I searched for several books that were not immediately available. The latest George R.R. Martin book had more than 30 people waiting, and I will also have to wait to read the book from Dakota Meyer, the Marine who recently won the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

I did find a copy of The Alienist, a book of historical fiction that I've been meaning to read for some time. I simply clicked on a link marked "Borrow" and the book automatically downloaded to my Kindle via wi-fi. It was instantaneous and I was able to start reading within seconds.

I have 14 days to read the book and then it disappears from my Kindle. Easy peasy. [NOTE: I have since learned that you can select a borrowing period of 7, 14 or 21 days.]

It's not a perfect system. I wish there were more books available and I wish there were more copies of each title. But selection and availability are not issues exclusive to e-books. 

Presumably, the selection of ebooks will increase as more people use e-readers and demand it. 

The county library system is not shying away from the technology, and in fact has 200 e-readers (Kindles and Nooks) available for people to borrow. The e-readers have many popular titles pre-loaded on them. 

Jeff Andrade February 22, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Amazon Prime members get additional access to instant borrowing of over 270,000 Kindle titles in the Kindle Owners Lending Library in addition to free 2-day shipping on Amazon purchases as well as streaming movies and TV shows on you Kindle Fire or computer. The first month is free and $79/year thereafter, which pays for itself through saved shipping costs if you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, and/or book buying or video downloading. Amazon also has a free add-on service for Prime members called Amazon Mom that adds a 20% discount on diapers and other product discounts targeted at parents of kids. Students can get Amazon Prime free for 6 months with an .edu email address. Finally, you don't even need to buy a Kindle device -- you can also download Kindle software for your iOS or Android phone or tablet, or use the Cloud Reader to read your Kindle books on your PC or Mac. But if you do want one, the new $69 6" Kindle fits in your pocket, weighs less than 6 oz, holds 1,400 books, and the battery charge lasts a month. I don't work for Amazon or own its stock -- I just love my Kindle!
Tim Lemke (Editor) February 23, 2013 at 05:10 AM
We have a Netflix subscription, but may switch over to Amazon Prime because I like the idea of the lending library. If the catalog of streaming movies and TV is comparable, it seems like it'd be worth it.
McGibblets February 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM
I left netflix a while ago, so i cant speak of their current line up. What i prefer about amazon instant video is that you get the a collection of free movies and shows plus you also have the option to buy/rent them a la carte. To me amazon instant video is the best of both worlds, with some free streaming like netflix but also on demand purchasing like any other PPV service such as directv cinema, apple tv etc. For what its worth. But excellent article, ereading is the future IMO and amazon has nailed it with their kindle lineup!
McGibblets February 23, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Of course, for the 'free' videos you have to be a Prime member and that does cost but for me the free two day shipping on all Prime items has made up for the cost easily.
Diane Milleville February 23, 2013 at 12:57 PM
If you keep your wifi turned off after downloading the book, you can keep the borrowed book for as long as you want. It has no affect on the waitlist for other people. The book will expire as scheduled. The minute you turn wifi back on your book will be shown as expired.
Jeff Andrade February 23, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Currently I think Netflix is worth it just for the House of Cards series alone. Amazon Prime doesn't work on the media boxes attached to the TV so for me it is more of an alternative to renting movies or shows on iTunes or Hulu+. But back to the article, and to give equal time, I will also say my Mom really likes her new Barnes & Noble Nook HD that we got her. The screen resolution is amazing. She had an earlier generation reader and is a longtime and frequent BN shopper so it works well for her.
Theresa February 23, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Thanks for that info, Diane!

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