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May 9, 2011

Growing readership

Libraries await a new wave of e-patrons as Kindle rolls out borrowing

(Continued)

"It's going to be really interesting what happens," she said.

Another challenge might be the inability to obtain downloadable copies. Like physical books, libraries will only have so many copies of the digital version to lend out. Once they're gone, patrons will have to wait until they are "returned" to the library's computer database. Typically, libraries lend books out for three weeks. A Kindle version will not open after three weeks.

Despite the potential for a sluggish start, Salisbury Public Library director Terry Kyrios said responses from her patrons have been hugely positive based on the comments she has received on the library's Facebook page.

"More response from that than anything I've ever posted on Facebook," Kyrios said.

With the average price of a downloadable book anywhere between $9.99 and $14.99, she said the idea of saving serious money is very appealing.

"Why wouldn't you want a free best-seller on your Kindle?" Kyrios said.

Cindy Diminture, head librarian for the Newburyport Public Library, was also hedging her excitement, hinting that Amazon's news may be more of a breakthrough for Kindle owners rather than the library as a whole.

"This could be a great thing depending on how it actually operates," Diminture said.

But Diminture agreed that adding Kindle users to the library's portfolio of offerings is a welcome development.

"The broader the e-book accessibility is, certainly it's better for us and the users, as well," Diminture said.

At Newbury Town Library, any sign of more activity from patrons is good news, especially as the town is seeking to increase property taxes to raise $950,000 for town services, including the library.

"It allows us to provide (more) open access and free access to material," Jean Ackerly, Newbury's assistant library director, said of Amazon's announcement.

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