NEW YORK -- Owners of the Kindle from Amazon.com will be able to download e-books from 11,000 U.S. libraries later this year, the company said this week.
And librarians in the Tri-Cities say it will be welcome to an increasing population of techno-savvy e-readers.
Most U.S. libraries already provide e-books, which work with nearly all e-readers except the Kindle. They also are accessible on many smartphones and tablets like the iPad.
"It's about time they are finally getting on board," said Kyle Cox, interim director of the Mid-Columbia Libraries based in Kennewick.
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MCL branches have had e-books available to patrons since 2009, and demand has been steadily growing, noted Michael Huff, the collections and merchandising director.
Huff said the library system has 4,800 e-books available now, and there have been 28,000 e-book requesters in the past two years.
"Kindle was the last holdout among the tablet computers, and the e-book systems, including Barnes & Noble's Nook, iPads, iPhones and Sony's Reader," Cox said.
Amazon.com Inc. says it's working with OverDrive Inc., which runs e-book systems for public libraries, to make the system compatible with the Kindle.
According to OverDrive, Kindle e-books will have the same lending terms as existing library e-books. Most libraries lend their books out for three weeks at a time. The e-books on Kindle will no longer open after that period of time.
Libraries have a limited number of "copies" of each e-book, so borrowers sometimes must wait for popular titles.
Judy McMakin, library operations supervisor at the Richland Public Library, said patron interest in e-books "has skyrocketed" since Christmas.
"It's the convenience. There is almost as much demand as for downloadable audio books," McMakin said.
"We're not sure how this will shake out, or what it will look like," McMakin said.
OverDrive said borrowers will browse for titles on PCs or phones, and can then choose to have them delivered to a Kindle or Amazon's Kindle applications for other devices, including phones and PCs.
On iPhones and Android phones, borrowers can browse for books and download them directly today.
"We see this as a growing demand. E-readers are very active readers, more than regular book readers. This is the way of the future," Cox said.