You May Be Able to Check Out Amazon Digital Books From Your Local Library

Screenshot of James Pyles Amazon Author’s Page

I don’t visit Mike Glyer’s File 770 very often for a variety of reasons. One of them is that Glyer publishes content so frequently, and I don’t have the bandwidth to always consume it (so when I do visit, the sampling is very sparse). Also, having attempted to interact with his audience in the past, I’ve found at least a few of them to be remarkably hostile, and why talk to people who are going to hate you, right?

Anyway, curiosity got the better of me today and I peeked in at Pixel Scroll 12/4/20 The Rest Of The File, To Scroll Man, It’s… It’s A Filkbook!. I shot past the SFPA Officer Elections because I don’t care as well as someone eating a pizza, but stopped at “Hope for Libraries.”

I love libraries. They are some of the most wonderful places on Earth. I’ve had a library card since I was a young man, and my children and grandchildren have always been denizens of libraries.

Anyway, I came across a couple of articles: Amazon Publishing in Talks to Offer E-books to Public Libraries at Publisher’s Weekly and at The Hill, Amazon under pressure to lift ban on e-book library sales.

The upshot is:

The potential deal would be a breakthrough moment in the library e-book market as Amazon currently does not make its digital content available to libraries. It would also be a major coup for the Digital Public Library of America’s upstart e-book platform and its SimplyE library reading app.

I’d have to do a lot more research to really understand what all this would mean, but think about it. Imagine Amazon’s catalog of digital reading material available at any public library in the U.S. Imagine being able to check out any digital book, from the latest New York Times Bestseller and last year’s Hugo award winning novel (I know, I know) to…get this…any indie novel or anthology.

Now, I’m not saying that would be part of the deal. I have no idea how this is all going to play out. I do know that this is all supposed to reach fruition in early 2021.

What I’m imagining, what I’m hoping, even if it doesn’t happen soon, is that eventually, any single novel, anthology, or periodical whether produced by a big box publisher or a couple of guys in Australia running an indie business would be equally available, and all you need is a library card.

It probably won’t happen that way because I don’t see Amazon wanting to level the playing field so completely. But just think of what it would mean for all of us indie authors if they did. People could find and read our works with breathtaking ease.

Okay, it wouldn’t be that easy because people would have to know they exist and are accessible. I suppose in that sense, for people like me, we’d still bear the responsibility of marketing our wares. Like The Hill story said:

“You shouldn’t have to have a credit card in order to be an informed citizen,” Michael Blackwell, director of St. Mary’s County Library in Maryland, told The Hill. “It’s vital that books continue to be a source of information and that those books should be democratically discovered through libraries.”

I’m not holding my breath because I’m sure what I want is a long shot at best, but there’s always hope.

Oh, just to let you know, unlike a lot of places around the country or even in my local area, the main branch of the library nearest me is not only letting people in, we can wander the stacks and check out any physical item we want, including books and DVDs. Used to be they’d just deliver whatever you checked out online to your door (which is also really cool), but I’ve missed going to the brick and mortar library. Like I said, they’re really great places.

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