The Pendulum has moved to a new site at ElonPendulum.com

Belk Library now offering Amazon Kindles

by Katy Steele,

Six new Amazon Kindles are now available to students, faculty and staff to check out at Belk Library. The Kindle, an electronic book reader sold by Amazon.com, offers a digital alternative to traditional hardback books.

Belk librarian Shannon Tennant said the Kindles arrived only a few weeks ago after a long push by a committee over the summer. Tennant said other North Carolina universities, like
Duke Universtiy and N.C. State University, have already implemented the technology, and the Elon committee looked to these universities' programs as a guideline.

Tennant said the Kindles were released Nov. 14, intentionally before Thanksgiving break so students could try them out before the holiday shopping season.

According to Tennant, the library ordered Kindles for two reasons. First, she said, to provide people access to an emerging new technology. Second, to allow the library to have multiple copies of one title, offering a solution to what Tennant calls a "space crunch."

Each device currently holds 26 titles. Among them are the common reading book, "China Road," plus 25 purposefully chosen from Amazon's bestseller list. Available titles can be viewed by searching "Kindle" on Belk's online catalog.

The Kindles can hold up to 1,500 titles each. But, users of Belk's Kindles must stick to the library's pre-loaded titles and cannot download their own selections. Tennant said after assessing the Kindle's popularity at Elon, new titles can be anticipated for later in the year.

So far, the Kindles have been in high demand. Freshman Lindy Terry has been using her own since September and said it's an amazing resource.

"I love reading my Kindle so much more than reading a paper book. It's easier to manage. It's convenient, small, easy to read and just an overall great device," Terry said.

If they continue to be popular, more Kindles could be introduced at Elon.

Additional Kindles can be expected to come in pods of six, as each title purchased can be  distributed across six devices. This idea could ultimately save Belk money. With one title costing around $9.99, divided amongst six devices, the cost comes to less than $2 a book.

Belk spent $139 on each new device, and the money, Tennant said, was taken from the library's book fund.

Although electronic reading devices are quickly gaining popularity, Tennant said there's no reason to worry whether they will replace traditional books entirely. Although e-readers save space and resources, there's something special about the permanence of a real book Tennant doesn't think electronics can ever imitate.

Terry, thinks differently noting that e-readers are like any other technological device.

"DVDs replaced VHS tapes, IPod replaced CDs, which replaced cassette tapes ... E-Readers will become more popular and eventually replace books," Terry said.

For now, students can check out a Kindle to see what they think. Each device comes with a red case, a charging cord and an instruction card. Students may need to place a device on hold, but once available, they can be checked out for up to two weeks.