If there were a press release about this product, it might exclaim, "Revolutionary service gives you access to a virtually unlimited number of books!" writes Barbara Fister at Insider Higher Ed. She must be talking about Amazon's new Kindle Unlimited, which gives people access to 600,000 books (many of them of the self-published variety) for $120 a year, right? Nope, Fister is talking about the library, specifically the "interlibrary loan" service that allows libraries to pass around their purchases—books, ebooks, videos, music, whatever—to other libraries.
This simple, "audacious idea" would probably be the subject of congressional hearings were it floated today, "unless some hot tech startup invented it and called it 'Uber for books' or something," writes Fister, a college librarian. Amazon's offering isn't even the first, or necessarily the best, of its kind, but it's getting all the attention because of the company's Goliath stature. One critic referred to it as a "glorified library card," but Fister objects to that. "There's nothing glorified about it," she concludes. "A library card has a lot more going for it." Click for the full column. (Read more Amazon stories.)