overdrive-with-the-kindle-3-728Some disconcerting reports on the KBoards and Amazon forums point to an unsettling trend among U.S. and other public libraries. Posters and respondents report multiple instances of local libraries dropping OverDrive as their ebook lending service provider in favor of the 3M Cloud Library – for cost reasons. The problem is that the 3M Cloud Library requires an app – available for Kindle Fire, but not on e-paper Kindles.

“3M Cloud does not support the Kindle devices so that means I will be unable to get e-books from the library any longer. I don’t want to read e-books on my Kindle Fire since I prefer to read them on my Kindle Paperwhite. I called the local library and they weren’t able to help me,” states KBoards member Sam Rivers. “If your library get 3M and drops Overdrive, you are out of luck. The reason the libraries are doing it is to save money.”

Amazon forums member flipoid adds: “The subscription to 3M is significantly cheaper than a subscription to Overdrive. Easier on the library’s budget.” Another Amazon forums member states: “My library insists it switched to 3M because it’s easier to use, offers significantly more titles and enables borrowers to borrow a maximum of ten books at a time rather than just the six the library was able to offer with Overdrive. Like you, I’m guessing the aforementioned is political double talk for ‘it costs less!'” Some respondents confirm far higher borrowing ceilings with OverDrive services at their libraries, so presumably much of this is down to cost.

Other KBoards and Amazon forum members do mention that their libraries reverted to OverDrive, and in some cases at least, listened to complaints. And as all respondents mention, if you are using your local library’s ebook lending service and are having problems with this, or hear of a service provider change happening, it’s worth at least asking the library to see what’s going on. I’d also be interested to know how many TeleRead readers are facing this issue, or have encountered problems.

It goes without saying that e-paper Kindles are popular primarily because they’re easier on the eyes. Amazon is also apparently throwing effort into support for blind and partially sighted readers through initiatives like VoiceView for the Kindle. It would be a shame if community libraries started to curb support for some of their most challenged readers, as well as some of their most dedicated and committed e-readers in general, purely for cost grounds. How bad a problem is this? Your thoughts and feedback welcomed.

Publisher’s note: Whole Amazon has made progress, it is far from fully committed to accessibility. – DR


  1. The library where I work is considering adding Hoopla. We are not wild about the per use payment model, but SIMULTANEOUS DOWNLOADS of ebooks, eaudio and streaming video. With Overdrive you have to purchase individual titles. When you “buy” Hoopla you have access to all 400,000 plus items in their collection. And did I say simultaneous downloads? I can see this leading to a decision to drop Overdrive.

    • Connie Jo, my library still has Overdrive but has recently added Hoopla. I have my fingers crossed that this does not mean they will eventually drop Overdrive, because Hoopla does not have near the titles that I can get from Overdrive and, in addition, Hoopla’s have to be read on a tablet via Hoopla’s app. This is fine when it is an audiobook which I can listen to on my phone, but I prefer reading on my Kindle because it is lighter in my hand and easier on my eyes. I do think the simultaneous downloads are great in regard to audiobooks, however.

  2. “an unsettling trend among U.S. and other public libraries”

    Kindle support is limited to libraries in the US, so I don’t see how “other public libraries” could possibly matter in this story.

    And in any case, the answer is NO. Most Kindle users don’t read on a Kindle; they read on their tablet or smartphone with a Kindle app. Now they just have to install a different app.

    • “Most Kindle users don’t read on a Kindle; they read on their tablet or smartphone with a Kindle app. ”

      So, you’re saying that “most” Kindle e-ink users DON’T use their devices to read?? Do you bother to think about what you’re writing or does it just escape from your head because THAT, my friend, is an astoundingly stupid statement.

      • If you’re going to twist my comment into something I _didn’t_ write then you are welcome to go, errr, debate yourself.

        The term “KIndle user” also includes people who use the Kindle app on their mobile device.Those mobile device owners won’t be all that put out by having to use the Overdrive app.

        In the future, maybe you should read the entire comment before responding.

  3. Kindle e-ink devices should be able to support apps. It is not the fault of libraries that the Kindle e-readers are so deliberately limited by Amazon that they cannot adapt. Is it fair to expect the world to adapt to Amazon and their poor design decisions?

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