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Kindle books are at 11,000 libraries -- but any you want to read?

September 21, 2011 | 11:01 am

KindleGraphicNowAvailable Amazon.com Inc. is trumpeting the availability of its Kindle e-books at 11,000 public libraries around the U.S., a step that is sure to make Kindle readers happy.

Until they find out how few Kindle books are actually available. 

At the Los Angeles Public Library, an institution whose downtown branch alone has more than two million volumes, only 8,700 Kindle books are listed on its website.  At the New York Public Library, one of the world's largest with a collection of nearly 15 million print titles. there are around 14,000 Kindle books available.  

Neither of those Kindle collections carries hugely popular recent bestsellers like the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series*, Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" or either of Amazon's top two current Kindle bestsellers. To be fair, they do both include Kathryn Stockett's popular "The Help," but most of the titles appear to be less well known -- e.g. "The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt*" and "The Nymphos of Rocky Flats."

Libraries have been relatively slow to adopt e-books, which can be both expensive and, because they are available online, can keep patrons from visiting physical branches.  But as more people have purchased e-readers over the last two years, and become comfortable with downloading digital books, circulation has ticked up significantly.

Amazon did not respond to a question about the number of available Kindle books, or the types of titles, available in U.S. libraries.

Take a look at your local library's Kindle collection (you may see the graphic at the upper right -- click on it to see what's available) -- and let us know what you think in the comments.

-- David Sarno

*Updated, Sep. 22: In fact, both the NYPL and LAPL carry the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" books for Kindle, althouth they did not turn up in initial searches.  Also, "The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt" is not a marginal book, as the post might suggest, but was actually an award-winning work that ended up on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Your author feels guilty for the implication.

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