At some point I speculated that if there were ever a Netflix service for ebooks, libraries as places to get books would be a thing of the past. Or at least I think I wrote that, because I’m too lazy to Google myself to find out.
One possibility for such a service is the Amazon Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. This is a service where people who own a Kindle and have an Amazon Prime account can supposedly “read for free.”
“Choose from over 145,000 titles, including all 7 Harry Potter books and more than 100 current and former New York Times Best Sellers, to read on your Kindle.” I saw that and thought, woo hoo, former NYT best sellers! Sign me up, baby!
On the website, it says “you may borrow one book at a time,” but that’s okay, because I can only read one book at a time.
I’d been resisting all this ebook hype, since I like to own the books I pay for , but I figured what the heck. Reading for free? Who can resist.
Free, after you’ve paid $80/year for a Prime membership and at least $70 for a Kindle, but what’s $150 these days? Besides, I already had the Prime account because I haven’t left my apartment since starting to write this blog, so I have everything delivered to me via Amazon. They sell Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and Fancy Feast, and what more do I need.
For those who haven’t tried it, it turns out the Amazon Kindle Owner’s Lending Library isn’t much competition for real libraries, because the Lending Library kinda sucks. If real lending libraries were this bad, no one would use them.
First, let’s look at the information not contained on the website. You can check out only one book at a time, but they don’t tell you that you can only check out one book per month. I only found out about that when I got burned checking out a book that wasn’t at all what I thought it was, removed it, then browsed for something else and saw a tiny little note reading “monthly limit reached.”
And why was I burned? Because there’s a lot of crap in the Lending Library that looks like a book, sounds like a book, but is really something far short of a book. Without paying attention, I downloaded one of these based on the title and found myself in some self-published garbage of a document. There seems to be a higher percentage of this stuff in the Lending Library compared to regular Amazon. Lesson learned.
Oh, and forget searching for a book, because you can’t do it, or at least I couldn’t figure out a way. The only way to find books is to browse by 24 categories, with lists of books arranged by the most popular to least popular within that category. Go through that list of 7,000 mysteries 6 at a time, which is how many show up on my search page.
Literary fiction, science fiction, mysteries, and romances all get their own categories, putting them on an equal footing with “science.” The fiction categories actually worked pretty well, but nothing else did.
If you’re interested in science, history, politics, or travel, your choices are considerably more limited than people who are interested in business, religion, “advice & how-to,” or “lifestyle & home,” which together take up over ¾ of the nonfiction titles.
The most popular title in “science,” and thus the one that comes up first, is The Worst Hard Time: the Untold Story of Those who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, which from the description has nothing whatsoever to do with science. 5th on the list is a book about a murder trial. Most of the popular books are exercise books of some sort.
The 10th book on the list is about how the government secretly benefited from UFO technology while keeping the rest of us from enjoying the benefits so that they could control us better. Science!
There’s a book on coding that also shows up in the much more appropriate category “computers & internet.” Needless to say, the subject analysis leaves something to be desired.
The 5 most popular books on computing are books about the Kindle Fire, so if you don’t care about those you have to keep clicking through to find winners like Proof You can Make a Full-Time Income with Ebay.
The reviews for that book are so excited that I was tempted to plunk down 99 cents instead of waiting until my month was up and reading it for free. The guy must know what he’s talking about because he self-publishes lots of books on Amazon .
One thing the Lending Library is useful for is sociological studies. Not finding or reading them, but conducting them. Clicking on “politics & current events,” I didn’t expect much, “current events” being a high schoolish way of talking. I expected a bunch of books bashing Obama or Romney or liberals or conservatives and saying how evil people are who don’t agree with the book’s author. There are books like that, I’ve heard.
The first thing I discovered was that a bunch of paranoids and conspiracy nuts like the Lending Library, probably expecting that Amazon’s Whispernet will be the only thing that survives the apocalypse, perhaps confusing it with Skynet.
Of the first 6 books or the first page of the list are three books about disaster preparedness, with “urban preppers” contending against a “doomsday prepping crash course.” On the next page are 2 (!) books on creating a “bug out bag,” plus another disaster survival guide.
Plus a book about how the UN is creating a one-world government, which will probably spark the doomsday disasters wherein bug-out bags will be needed. And another book about how Obama will somehow eliminate Fox News if he’s elected a second time, because that seems likely. The big choice we all have to make in the next election: get rid of Fox News or Big Bird? Tough choices!
I know there are natural disasters that happen in the United States, but these books are all assuming some massive apocalyptic event, probably caused by political intrigue, is really a likely scenario. It’s the black helicopter brigade who are now free to tell the truth about the darkness overcoming us now that the main stream media with their “facts” and “evidence” don’t stand in the way of publishing.
At least libraries are safe from the Amazon Lending Library. It’s completely useless as a substitute for a real lending library, but it is a good place to corral the crazies so that they don’t hang out in our real libraries whispering conspiracy theories as they drool on themselves and our furniture. That’s something, at least.