The Internet Archive, in conjunction with 150 libraries, has rolled out a new 80,000 e-book lending collection today on OpenLibrary.org. This means that library patrons with an OpenLibrary account can check out any of these e-books.
The hope is that this effort will help libraries make the move to digital book lending. “As readers go digital, so are our libraries,” says Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive.
This new digital lending system will allow library patrons to borrow up to 5 e-books at a time for up to 2 weeks. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (that can be read via the Internet Archives’ e-reader that we covered here last December) or a PDF or ePUB version. The latter will allow readers to access the borrowed books from a number of devices, including iPads, laptops, and libraries’ own computers.
Lending e-books has proven to be quite complicated, for both individual book owners but certainly for libraries. As we have written here before, some publishers have been fearful of the move to digital books, let alone the move to e-book sharing, refusing to allow their books to be made available for lending or only allowing loans with certain on-site restrictions.
The publishers participating in this OpenLibrary project, including Cursor and OR Books, have a very different take on the future of libraries, publishing, and lending. “Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers – enabling open and browser-based lending through the Internet Archive means more books for more readers, and we’re thrilled to do our part in achieving that,” says Richard Nash, founder of Cursor.
As a number of startups spring up to take advantage of the lending options available on Kindles and Nook readers, it’s good to see public libraries also moving to embrace e-book lending.