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To mark the first day of the nationwide rollout of  the Library eBooks for Kindle collections, I’ve captured a snapshot of the Kindle ebook collections of four public libraries:  The New York Public Library, The Los Angeles Public Library, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and the CLAMS Library Network, which serves Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

The populations served by these four libraries vary in size, community type (urban, suburban, rural) and in the mix of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.  As is evident in the numbers listed below, the library ebook collections available in each of these community varies greatly, too.  A scientific comparison would require population totals, library cardholder totals, median incomes, library funding numbers, etc., as well as a larger sampling of public libraries.  As I don’t have time to do all of that before this moment in ebook history passes, I’ve provided a few simple, but interesting metrics, including a list of each library’s ten most popular ebooks.

The books that made it into each library’s list of top ten most popular ebooks are as much a function of the limited library ebook titles available to patrons as they are indicative of the reading zeitgeist of each community.  In other words, when reading library books – whether print, ebook, or audiobook , library users can only choose from the titles made available to them.  A library’s list of the top ten most popular library ebooks is bound to be a subset of the ebook collection itself.  Thus, when that ebook collection is limited, any list of most popular library ebooks will be skewed by the fact that the library users are making choices within a very limited catalog of ebooks.  As you can see from the number of titles in each library’s ebook collection, there’s a great variation in the number of titles available from library to library.

As this is early days in the adoption of ebooks, we can expect the demand by library patrons for ebooks to grow.  One of the challenges for public libraries will be to secure the funds needed to purchase ebooks and other electronic resources fast enough to satisfy the needs and demands of library users.

You can help by calling and/or writing your public officials in support of these services.  If it’s within your budget, consider showing your appreciation by making a donation to your public library!  If you’re not using your library’s ebook services, start now!  When you want or need a book that not in your library’s collection, place a request for it.  If the ebook you want to read has a waiting list, add your name to it.  When the waiting list becomes long enough, it serves as a tipping point for purchasing more copies of the book (that is, if the funds are available).  As you wait your digital turn, browse the catalog and choose a book from among those that are available.  I guarantee that you’ll discover some very interesting books by doing just that.

Total Titles in Library eBooks for Kindle Collections in the Following Libraries on Sep 22, 2011

New York Public Library:              14,527
Los Angeles Public Library’:           8,726
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:      2,878
CLAMS (MA) Library Network:      2,285

New York Public Library
Total NYPL Library eBook Titles for Kindle: 14,527

Top 10 List of Most Popular eBooks at the NYPL on Sep 22, 2011

1.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Library copies: 108
Waiting list: 524 patrons

2.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Millennium Trilogy, Book 1 by Stieg Larsson
Library copies: 123
Waiting list: 2 patrons

3.  A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire Series, Book 1 by George R.R. Martin
Library copies: 79
Waiting list: 198

4.  Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
Library copies: 65
Waiting list: 6 patrons

5.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Millennium Trilogy, Book 3 by Stieg Larsson
Library copies: 80
Waiting list: 0 and 13 copies are available

6.  One Day by David Nicholls
Library copies: 36
Waiting list: 228 patrons

7.  The Girls Who Played with Fire, Millennium Trilogy, Book 2 by Stieg Larsson
Library copies: 67
Waiting list: 0 and 11 copies are available

8.  A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Library copies: 35
Waiting list: 210 patrons

9.  In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
Library copies: 35
Waiting list: 86 patrons

10.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Library copies: 40
Waiting list: 77 patrons

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The Los Angeles Public Library
Total Library eBook Titles for Kindle: 8,726

Top 10 List of Most Popular eBooks at the LAPL on Sep 22, 2011

1.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Library copies: 24
Waiting list: 172 patrons

2.  A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire Series, Book 1 by George R. R. Martin
Library copies: 20
Waiting list: 69 patrons

3.  George R. R. Martin’s a Game of Thrones 4-Book Bundle by George R. R. Martin
Library copies: 13
Waiting list: 52 patrons

4.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Millennium Trilogy, Book 1 by Stieg Larsson
Library copies: 13
Waiting list: 18 patrons

5.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Millennium Trilogy, Book 3 by Stieg Larsson
Library copies: 10
Waiting list: 18 patrons

6.  Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
Library copies: 35 patrons
Waiting list: 12

7.  Smokin’ Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich
Library copies: 8
Waiting list: 34 patrons

8.  In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
Library copies: 9
Waiting list: 40 patrons

9.  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Library copies: 9
Waiting list: 21 patrons

10.  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Library copies: 8
Waiting list: 34 patrons

******************************

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Total Library eBook Titles for Kindle: 2,878

Top 10 List of Most Popular eBooks at the CLP on Sep 22, 2011

1.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Library copies: 12
Waiting list: 144 patrons

2.  George R.R. Martin’s a Game of Thrones 4-Book Bundle by R. R. Martin
Library copies: 10
Waiting list: 49 patrons

3.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Millennium Trilogy, Book 1 by Stieg Larsson
Library copies: 7
Waiting list: 40 patrons

4.  Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
Library copies: 9
Waiting list: 17 patrons

5.  The Confession: A Novel by John Grisham
Library copies: 10
Waiting list: 5 patrons

6.  Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
Library copies: 7
Waiting list: 25 patrons

7.  Smokin’ Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich
Library copies: 5
Waiting list: 47 patrons

8.  Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Library copies: 6
Waiting list: 35 patrons

9.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Millennium Trilogy, Book 3 by Stieg Larsson
Library copies: 6
Waiting list: 31 patrons

10.  Dead Reckoning: Sookie Stackhouse Series, Book 11 by Charlaine Harris
Library copies: 5
Waiting list: 25 patrons

******************************

CLAMS Library Network for the Cape and Islands, MA
CLAMS Total Library eBook Titles for Kindle: 2,285

Top 10 List of Most Popular eBooks at the CLP on Sep 22, 2011

1.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Library copies: 7
Waiting list: 38 patrons

2.  Caleb’s Crossing: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
Library copies: 7
Waiting list: 15 patrons

3.  Smokin’ Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich
Library copies: 4
Waiting list: 8 patrons

4.  Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Library copies: 5
Waiting list: 13 patrons

5.  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Surval, Resilence and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Library copies: 5
Waiting list: 0

6.  In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
Library copies: 4
Waiting list: 3 patrons

7.  A Game of Thrones: Song of Ice and Fire Series, Book 1 by George R.R. Martin
Library copies: 4
Waiting list: 1 patron

8.  George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones 4-Book Bundle by George R. R. Martin
Library copies: 4
Waiting list: 1 patron

9.  The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain
Library copies: 4
Waiting list: 1 patron

10.  The Lincoln Lawyer: Mickey Haller Series, Book 1 by Michael Connelly
Library copies: 4
Waiting list: 1 patron

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O, Happy Day!  New York Public Library users are now able to borrow ebooks from the Library’s ebook catalog at ebooks.nypl.org and read them on their Kindle and/or via Kindle app for various devices (iPad, Touch, smartphones, PCs, Macs, and via the Kindle Cloud Reader)!! Today I’ve borrowed three ebooks from the NYPL and was able to have them delivered to my Kindle (and then to my iPad, iPod Touch, Kindle Cloud Reader, Kindle for Mac, and DROID phone).

Although the publicity on the launch of Amazon’s Public Library Books for Kindle program has centered around the beta test of the new system at the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System, the Public Library Books for Kindle service is also available on the New York Public Library’s eNYPL Web site at http://ebooks.nypl.org

The Seattle Times has provided an excellent explanation of the Public Library Books for Kindle process in two articles by Brier Dudley. (See links below.)

In the Photo Guide article, whose link I’ve listed last, Dudley has posted screenshots as well as a step-by-step guide to the process of checking out a library ebook on a Kindle ereader and/or on a Kindle app.

I’ve just spent the last few hours checking out the NYPL’s Kindle ebook selection and am absolutely delighted that this option is now available to NYPL users. I’m particularly pleased that the ability to borrow ebooks for use on the Kindle has come to the NYPL’s ebook catalog, as I often prefer reading on the Kindle e-ink reader to reading a book on the iPad, Touch, or Android smartphone. (This preference is dependent upon the time of day, whether I’m reading indoors or outdoors, or whether I’m reading at home or on the go.)

In addition, I’m enjoying being able to highlight passages and make notes as I read these borrowed library ebooks – and to having those notes saved as part of my Kindle book notes (also known as “My Clippings” on the Kindle itself, and “Your Highlights” on the Web site kindle.amazon.com). Up until now, I’ve read borrowed library ebooks on my iPad and iPod Touch via the Overdrive app, which currently does not provide the ability to make and save notes and highlights.

I have noted two glitches so far and both may have something to do with the fact that the Kindle software on my Kindle 3rd Generation is Version: Kindle 3.1 (558700031), while there now appears to be more updated versions being used on some of the Kindles in the Seattle Public Library beta test. For more details on this, see Kindle maven Andrys Basten’s blog post “A special Kindle v3.3 Software version was used for public library access tests – Update.” (Link provided below).

One of the glitches involves highlighting while reading the NYPL ebooks on my 3rd Generation Kindle. Although the highlighting that I’ve done while reading on the Kindle ereader shows up in the “My Clippings” file on the Kindle, it is not consistently showing up on my “Your Highlights” page at kindle.amazon.com. Highlights that I’ve made in the same title while reading it on the iPad and on my DROID cell phone do show up as underlined text in that same title on the Kindle, but don’t show up in the “My Clippings” file on the Kindle. They do, however, display on the Kindle under the “View Notes and Marks” option (reached via the Menu button while reading the ebook). Passages that I’ve highlighted while reading an ebook that I purchased from Amazon do show up in the “My Clippings” and on the “My Highlights” section of kindle.amazon.com.

The 2nd glitch I’ve noticed is that one of the three ebooks I’ve borrowed as a Kindle edition from eNYPL refuses to download into my Kindle for Mac library. The other two titles have downloaded perfectly into my Kindle for Mac, so this glitch appears to be specific to this one title and how it chooses to interface (or not) with the Kindle for Mac app. With the exception of this one title refusing to download into the Kindle for Mac, I’ve managed to download all three titles on all of my Kindle apps (iPad, iPod Touch, Android smartphone, Kindle for Mac, and Kindle Cloud Reader).

Both of these glitches could have something to do with the version of software on my Kindle and/or with the Public Library Books on Kindle service possibly being on overload. Whatever the problem, the glitches are minor. The important thing at this point is that those of us who have chosen to use Kindle ereaders can now join our epub-ereading friends in reading borrowed library books on the devices and apps of our choosing.

The more important issue, though, is the need for increased library funding to support new digital services like public library ebook lending, access to magazines, journals, and research databases, and the development and preservation of digital collections.  Call and/or write your public officials in support of these services.  If it’s within your budget, consider showing your appreciation by making a donation to your public library!

A very big thanks to the New York Public Library, Overdrive, and Amazon!

Support the Library – The New York Public Library
http://www.nypl.org/support 

A special Kindle v3.3 Software version was used for public library access tests – Update by Andrys Basten – A Kindleworld Blog – September 21, 2011
http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2011/09/special-kindle-v33-software-version-was.html

Kindle Users to Be Able to Borrow Library eBooks by Julie Bosman – NY Times – April 20, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/technology/21amazon.html

Kindle library Lending Begins in Seattle, King County (updated) by Brier Dudley – The Seattle Times
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/technologybrierdudleysblog/2016262065_kindle_library_lending_begins.html

Photo Guide: How to Check Out Kindle Library Books by Brier Dudley (posted Sept 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm) – The Seattle Times
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/technologybrierdudleysblog/2016262065_kindle_library_lending_begins.html

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Amazon has just launched a Free Book Collection page, where it gathers together links to “Free classics and out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books available for Kindle.”  Although this information has been available for a long time on other sites, having it pulled together on the Amazon site makes for a more seamless experience for the Kindle user.  Andrys Basten, the wonderful force behind A Kindle World Blog, provides an excellent analysis of what this means to the Kindle community in her post yesterday.

Here’s hoping that Amazon will soon realize that it’s in its best interest to enable Kindle users to download free books from the ebook collections at public libraries to their Kindles. If Sony and Barnes & Noble can figure out how to do this, then surely Amazon can, too.  People who borrow books from libraries also buy books. (And, let us not forget that libraries purchase books based on demand from patrons.)  As it stands now, those of us who wish to purchase ebooks from Amazon AND who also wish to borrow ebooks from libraries AND who wish to read them on an ereader must do so using two different ereader devices.  PC users have an additional option, which is to install Kindle for PC software and Adobe Digital Editions software on their computers, where they can then read both Amazon and borrowed library ebooks from that one appliance.  But, for those of us who prefer to hold the book – be it analog or digital – in our hands, this means taking two giant steps backwards, reading from a desktop or laptop screen instead.

Ebooks borrowed from libraries can only be read on devices and/or software that work(s) with DRM-protected Adobe EPUB and PDF files.  This category includes ereaders like Sony Reader and B&N’s Nook and software like Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software.  As ADE comes in both PC and Mac versions, patrons who do not own ereader devices have the option of reading the borrowed library ebooks from a computer screen. ADE does not work with the Kindle, nor has Adobe released an ADE app for smartphones yet.

PC users may read Amazon ebooks from their computer screens by downloading and installing the Kindle for PC software.  Mac users, as of this date, don’t have that option because Amazon has not yet made Kindle for Mac available.  Mac users (as well as anyone else) who own an iPhone, iPod Touch, or a Blackberry do have the option of reading Amazon’s ebooks on those devices.  What they can’t do is read borrowed library ebooks on smartphones because neither ADE nor Overdrive (the company that provides the digital delivery infrastructure for 9,000 public libraries) has released an ebook app for the mobile phone platform yet.

The upshot of all of this is that anyone who wishes to read both Amazon ebooks and borrowed library ebooks on a non-computer ereader device is forced to either choose between the two — or purchase two different devices and toggle between the two.  If the iPad enables users to download apps for the Kindle, all other ebook vendors, as well as apps for borrowing library ebooks, then I suspect that many ebook readers frustrated by having to toggle between devices and platforms, will adopt the iPad as their sole ereader.

Of course, there’s a much simpler solution:  all ebooks be published using the same format and be device-agnostic.

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