Kindle owners can now download electronic books for free using a service available to patrons of the and the .
Both libraries are members of the Municipal Library Consortium of St. Louis County, a nine-member consortium that cooperates on services and contracts. The group of libraries has previously contracted with a company called OverDrive for audiobooks, and has now added e-books to its repertoire.
The Kindle compatibility is new, said Scott Bonner, adult services librarian of the , which is also a member of the consortium. He expects the e-book service to become increasingly popular with the release of cheaper versions of the device and the Kindle Fire.
"I would suspect that we're going to get huge e-book numbers by the end of Christmas," Bonner said.
At present, the consortium offers 800 e-books and 1,700 audiobooks. Most of the books are newer and include bestsellers, though there also are a few classics. The consortium had a total of 1,346 checkouts of e-books and audiobooks during September.
Readers can access e-books for their Kindles, iPhones, Androids, computers and other compatible devices either from the library's catalog or the OverDrive website. Most of the e-books mimic a physical book circulating among readers in that only a certain number of copies are available at a time.
Library card-holders can also access e-books beyond the consortium. They can download e-books from the St. Louis County Library, St. Louis Public Library and St. Charles City-County Library District thanks to a reciprocal relationship the organizations share, Bonner said.
Many users will download books to their computers and then transfer the information to their mobile devices. Kindle books are checked out using OverDrive and delivered via Amazon. These readers must use their Kindle username and password to complete the download process.
The service also lets readers put e-books on hold. Email notification is provided when an e-book becomes available, and users have several days in which to check out the book or let someone else read it.
Other features of the service:
- Project Gutenberg content. ProjectGutenberg.org provides free digital access to numerous books no longer under copyright. Overdrive has cleaned up numerous texts on the website and made them available to e-book readers.
- Compatibility search. The OverDrive website lets readers search for books that are compatible for their electronic device.
- File size and more. OverDrive tells readers how much space an e-book will use on their device, the loan period, the number of parts in which the book comes and, for audiobooks, length.
- Checkout period. Readers can determine how long they would like to keep an e-book or audiobook from several options.