I had no idea that Amazon’s announcement would signal the end of the world, or at least the end of public libraries, or as my friend & colleague Andy puts it, the library apocalypse or I would have included this in yesterday’s post.
First let’s talk numbers about the Amazon Lending Library*
- Prime costs $79 a year, that’s roughly $6.58 a month.
- You must have a Kindle (not an app) to use the Amazon Lending Library, those start at $79.
- There are 5,000 titles available, (here’s a breakdown by genre)
- None of the six largest publishers in the U.S. is participating.
- You get one book per month, that doesn’t roll over.
Now library ebook/book numbers (I’m not even going to get into other library services and the availability of a real live person to help you)
- No additional cost, its covered by taxes
- You can use any number of devices for ebooks and no device at all required for print
- Untold numbers of titles available
- 3 of the largest US publishers allow ebook titles in libraries, all allow print.
- Unlimited books per month
Now let’s talk some other numbers.
- 12% of U.S. adults own an ereader. Not a Kindle, an ereader, which includes all other dedicated ereaders.
- 46.2 million Americans live below the poverty line
- 20.5 million Americans are living at 50% or less than poverty line, they are the poorest of the poor.
Now let’s look at the doomsday perspective – the numbers just do not add up. Let’s take the number of ebook readers -12% and be SUPER generous and assume that means that 10% of the population owns a Kindle, that’s 90% of the population that doesn’t. Now you have to assume that the 90% a) can afford a Kindle & a prime membership for every household member and b) wants a Kindle. Those are some pretty big leaps that I’m just not taking with you.
You also have to assume that having access to the Amazon Lending Library means users would stop using the public library system. Also inaccurate. For some one book a month might be enough. But, as someone who as worked in libraries and bookstores most of my life I’m pretty sure that’s not an accurate depiction of an avid reader.
Don’t forget that publishers (and writers) have a dog in this fight too. They’ve already stated they don’t care for this model for ebooks (though they were referring to libraries when they said it) and last time push came to shove with Amazon the publishers won.
* I know some people are getting all up in arms about the use of the word “library”, I’m choosing to ignore it even though Webster’s first defintion of library is “a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale” because it has come to mean so much more and I’m not getting in pissing contest over semantics when there are larger issues here, including that it doesn’t matter what Amazon calls itself, it matters how people see it.
- I Wouldn’t Get Too Attached to Those Amazon Prime Ebooks added 11/5/2011
- Amazon’s Library Model: Can we learn from it?
- Amazon, Now a Book Lender
- Breakdown of categories in the Kindle Lending Library
- Amazon Sets Up Lending Library for Amazon Prime Kindle Owners
- The Amazon Lending Library is NOT the Library Apocalypse
- Amazon Prime Book Lending: Your FAQs Answered
- Amazon Starts Lending Ebooks, but Head of ALA Says Libraries Still Offer Best Value
- E-reader ownership doubles in six months – Pew
- Sargent compares libraries to Netflix: ‘How is that a good model for us?’
- Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement