Friday, January 21, 2011

Kindling support for your local library...

Was speaking to my lovely wife today. As you likely know, we each love our Kindles. Sarah has been a bit flummoxed as to why Kindle seems to be the holdout when it comes to library books being available on the #1 e-reader device. After all, the Nook handles formats that most public libraries have adopted.

The answer, to be sure, is why should Amazon encourage you to get loaner books for free when it's making enough money off e-book sales to offset the loss it takes on Kindles themselves (though, I read that the margin on Kindles may be improving)? From a business standpoint, that doesn't make much sense. Especially when market share is in your favor without offering support for the file formats libraries prefer.

That said, I have a solution that I hope people smarter than me are already considering.

It would look like this:
  • Amazon and your local public library enter a contract where Amazon delivers content, likely segments of books at a time, for free to library members. The library would have to do zero "shelf stocking" here... library members get instant access to any book Amazon sells for Kindle.
  • Halfway through your free book, you hit an optional pay wall that would basically say "If you're enjoying this, why not buy it and have it forever. We normally sell this book for $9.99. We'll let you have it now for $7.99."
  • If you choose to buy, though, the library in your hometown gets $2 of the purchase price.
Think about this... in 2009, the Seattle Public Library checked out nearly 4 million adult books (not that kind of "adult book," you gutter-mind...). Let's imagine five percent of those hit the hypothetical pay wall above and purchased. That's $400,000 to the library, or nearly all of its budget for "materials" in 2009.

With local and national government spending cuts all but guaranteed in coming months, public libraries are going to be facing shortfalls. I suggest a model like this be tested.

Because as much as I like to read, it's tough for me to turn down a cheap good book that, if I purchase, helps give a little bit of funding to my local library to help as they plan community programs.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I think Amazon's unwillingness to support libraries choice of e-books (either epub or pdf, I cannot remember which one) is really pushing people to Nook or even the e-reader that Boarders for $99. I have noticed on Kindle message boards that people are able to share books with other Kindle users, so that may come in handy. I think we are going to soon start to see piracy in the Kindle marketplace. I am fairly cpu savvy and I already know how to convert books from libraries over to the file that will work on a Kindle.