3M has launched its Cloud Library eBook Lending Service, which allows avid readers to borrow and read ebooks from their local public libraries.
The service, which employs infrastructure built by Germany's Txtr GmBH, launched at the American Library Assocation's Annual Conference, with positive feedback by librarians in attendance.
Touchscreen Discovery Terminals can be used in libraries to give readers access to ebooks, while the software gives librarians a customisable way to manage their book catalogue. They can even add logos and Twitter feeds.
3M eReaders are loaned out like normal hard copy books, loaded with ebooks downloaded from the cloud, giving more people access to the latest reading technology. Readers can also bring their own eReader to download a rented book.
The problem, of course, is that eReaders are far more valuable than normal books and can be more easily damaged, so we imagine tighter regulation on who they can be lent out to will be employed in libraries. If any are stolen it will result in far bigger losses than an old paperback.
Regardless of the risks involved, this is a major move forward for the ebook industry, helping to bring public libraries forward to the digital age.