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Amazon is preparing a new service called Kindle Lending Library that will allow users of its popular e-reader to check out Amazonian ebooks from 11,000 neighborhood and educational libraries.

"We're excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries," said Amazon Kindle headman Jay Marine when announcing the service, which is scheduled to launch later this year, and which will be available to all generations of Kindles, plus other platforms running Amazon's Kindle software.

The Kindle Lending Library effort will be powered by OverDrive, a digital-content provider that currently provides ebook services to those aforementioned 11,000 libraries, and which provides ebook library-lending services to owners of the Sony Reader, a petite device far less successful than Amazon's Kindle.

Kindle users will not only be able to borrow ebooks that will be Whispersynced to their devices, but will also be able to add annotations and bookmarks to the loaners. Those additions won't be seen by other borrowers of the same title, but if you should choose to later purchase a previously borrowed book from Amazon, your additions will appear in it.

Amazon's new library-loan service will be another advantage over such competitors as Apple's iBook service, which Amazon is soundly trouncing.

One of Amazon's strengths has been that not only are its Kindle books readable on its eponymous e-reader, but can also be read on Windows PCs and Macs, as well as Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices, and BlackBerries.

Barnes & Noble comes close to Amazon's Kindle-software range, providing software not only for its own Nook readers, but also for Windows PCs and Macs, the iPad and iPhone, plus Android devices. Books purchased for the Sony Reader can also be read on Windows PCs and Macs.

Apple's iBooks, by contrast, are only readable on iOS devices – and no, you can't check out an iBook from your local library. ®

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