As readers know I am a huge fan of the Kobo eReader Touch and Nook ebook readers. One of the big advantages these ebook readers had over the Amazon Kindle was the ability to read your local library ebooks on the device so you could read thousands of books for free. As Larry already posted Amazon opened up access to 11,000 local public libraries with the Kindle today. Like the existing ebook readers, support for public libraries is through the Overdrive service.
I have a coworker who was going to buy a Kindle, but went for a Sony ebook reader since it had support for public libraries and he actually only reads public library books. The way it works is that you use your local library card to check out books online through a browser and then connect to your PC/Mac to transfer the checked out book to your ebook reader. You then have two weeks to read the book before the license is expired and the book becomes available again for another patron. Libraries have to purchase ebook licenses just like they purchase regular books so there are still limits on the number of copies available to check out. I would love to see an ebook vendor be able to support Overdrive wirelessly so you could find and check out books right from a device. There is an Overdrive app on Windows Phone 7 that lets you do this so it is possible.
These books for the Kindle are not in EPUB format like many of them available on the Kobo and Nook devices, but are in Kindle format. As the press release states Whispersync is supported with this capability as well as all of the Amazon Kindle ebook apps across a range of mobile devices. This is pretty compelling to me and the last thing standing between the Kindle and other ebook readers is the support for EPUB format. I have hundreds of books in EPUB format that I have access too across my devices.
The features mentioned in the press release include:
- Whispersync technology wirelessly sync your books, notes, highlights, and last page read across Kindle and free Kindle reading apps
- Real Page Numbers let you easily reference passages with page numbers that correspond to actual print editions
- Facebook and Twitter integration makes it easy to share favorite passages with your social networks
- Popular Highlights show you what our community of millions of Kindle readers think are the most interesting passages in your books
- Public Notes allow you to share your notes and see what others are saying about Kindle books
I personally think you can't go wrong with a Kindle, Nook, or Kobo ebook reader and the options just got better for the Kindle. Books across all three platforms are priced the same (thanks to the publishing deals worked out last year) so it really just depends on what form factor you prefer. I personally find the Kobo eReader Touch to still be my favorite for the size and lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard that I rarely use.