Readers can now mark up, highlight, and save passages in their library books as they choose.
E-Books are available for download to Kindle devices in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and San Bernadino counties.
Libraries subscribe to programs such as OverDrive, a lender of e-Books, to purchase books for the public, according to Nancy Kerr, Valencia Public Library Branch library manager.
"We purchase the rights to do this so the library patrons can do it for free," Kerr said.
Libraries purchase these e-Books with funds from their book budgets, Kerr said. Some e-books end up being cheaper than print books, while some libraries purchase both a print and digital copy, she said.
"The (budget) includes print books, e-Books, and online databases," Kerr said. "We juggle the demand and find what people are asking for. We are compiling statistics and looking at the patterns."
Customers interested in this service can go to their local library website, browse through their digital book collections, log in with their library card, and download their selections to their device via Wi-Fi or can transfer with a USB.
Compatible devices include any generation Kindle or the free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod, PC, Mac, BlackBerry or Windows phone. Readers can also access books in their web browsers with Kindle Cloud Reader.
The length of time the reader can retain access is determined by the library. A notice is sent to the reader three days before the subscription ends.
"We have 1,500 copies available," Kerr said. "We can also set it up to repurchase a certain amount."
Readers can use features such as Whispersync technology that will synchronize notes, highlighted material and the last page read. If the reader checks out the books again, all their annotations will be saved.
The Real Page Numbers let readers refer to the print edition easily. Customers can also share their favorite passages on Facebook and Twitter.
Bob Stein, director of the Institute for the Future of the Book, said the use of library books on Kindle will have no effect on the literacy level of the public.
"It's irrelevant," Stein said. "Those who are not literate do not own kindles."
He said the new service won't affect libraries as much as "discontinued support from government" will.
The Ventura County Library system first began offering downloadable books in August 2010, Dale Redfield, acting deputy director, said in an email statement.
Last year the system spent about $25,000 on titles from OverDrive, which amounted to about 8 percent of its $311,00 book budget, Redfield said.
Tighter budgets mean less for digital books. Even so, the system is hoping to spend $20,000 on OverDrive titles with the Kindle partnership.
Facebook users at NBC LA had mixed feelings about the partnership.
"I think it’s a great idea!" Jeanne Fraga wrote. "I have been checking out digital books from other libraries and it would be nice to expand the options by adding the LA library system.
Carmen Nino worried about the impact of digital books on the viability of bricks-and-mortar libraries. "A lot of our nearby branches are closing," Nino wrote.
"Book renting is a big business," Damien Ross wrote. "Someone will create a Netflix for books and libraries will be done."
Clara Campbell was ambivalent.
"I mourn the time when books (you know, paper, print,etc) go out of style- I like the smell of them, the feel of having a book in my hands, and losing myself in the story," she wrote. "But I'm glad people are still reading, so I guess it is the book of the future."