Amazon Kindle to allow free borrowing of library e-books


MONEY SAVING MOMENT: Amazon has announced it will allow library book lending on the Kindle e-reader, reversing longstanding opposition because there was simply too much money in the sale of digital books.

The online e-commerce giant will now work in cooperation with 11,000 public libraries around the country to make books available for free. A book that you “borrow” on your Kindle will simply disappear from the popular e-reader when your time is up after 14 or 21 days (depending on the library.) So say goodbye to the hassle of late fees.

I dread that disembodied computer voice on the answering machine always telling us which library book is overdue and how much we owe each time my wife and I take a book out for the kids and forget to return it. So I welcome the idea of no more late fees!

I’ve heard it asked in cash-strapped jurisdictions if there should even be physical libraries anymore. To me, that’s a bridge too far. There’s still enormous value at the library when kids have to work on a school project; or you’re starting a business and need to find resources; or you have an invention and you’re trying to do good research. You can go and talk to a librarian who has had years of college specializing in library science. That alone is invaluable.

But the day will come when libraries may just be little kiosks where you communicate with a librarian over the web, or on the phone or maybe in person to check out digital books. And at that point, eliminating the overhead of a traditional library would allow for better selection and better collections that people can read.

Meanwhile, I sorry to say I don’t recall where I read this, but did you know the hottest growth area in publishing is with $1 e-books? Authors who used to publish with big publishers and have made a name for themselves are experimenting with very different price points from as little as $1 to up to $5 or $6. The money is split between the author and the e-seller, and it cuts the publisher out of the picture.

I made a decision to go with a traditional publisher for both the e-book and printed version of my upcoming book, Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Times, due Aug. 2. See my related section below for a link where you can learn more and pre-order the book.  

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