I don’t know why this is becoming so difficult for everyone to understand.
1) Amazon will not be converting ePubs for lending.
2) Each library has licensed X number of titles for its catalog.
3) Amazon will match each library’s catalog with a Kindle version.
4) Requests to lend via a library OverDrive catalog will be sent to Amazon.
5) Amazon will fulfill the request with a Kindle copy.
6) OverDrive keeps tabs on all the licensing/copy records.
7) Whatever a library pays for an ePub copy, it will pay for a Kindle copy.
8) Libraries do not have to buy new Kindle copies.
9) The Kindle copies are just added into the existing agreements.
Why is this taking so long to accomplish?
Think of the frikkin logistics of it!
When someone wants to borrow a copy in Kindle format, how will that be fulfilled? That is, is it intended to be sent to a desktop Kindle app, a platform Kindle app (iOS, Android, webOS), or to a Kindle?
There are no such problems with ePub. People generally download them to desktop ADE or to the device they are currently connected to the library with (iOS, Android).
In addition, because so many people have Amazon accounts, Amazon might want to give its customers the option of linking their Amazon and library card accounts so the options of where to send a library book are already known and can be immediately offered instead of presenting a long, confusing list of delivery possibilities. Due to privacy issues, this is not an easy thing to do. Libraries might not want that.
However, in Kindle loans, there might be an option to buy the book. A portion of that money could go to the public library it was borrowed from, so libraries might relent about linking Amazon and library accounts when they see it could supplement their currently-constrained funding.
Also, we don’t yet know if Amazon’s platform software (desktop, device) or Kindles will have incorporated into them the option of viewing library catalogs directly. It would make sense to be able to view an OverDrive public library catalog directly on a Kindle without having to fight viewing it in a browser. There might be work on OverDrive’s end too, to offer a Kindle-optimized catalog view.
Beyond that, what if Amazon made changes in the Kindle Store that had a “Borrow This From My Library” option?
There are a lot of issues to be worked out.
None of this is as simple (I just bruised that word!) as it is with the current ePub system. That’s why it’s taking so long.
Amazon never announced it would match printed book page numbers. But had they announced that was coming, the delay between announcement and offering it would have taken so long, people would have complained.
This time Amazon announced well in advance as part of its marketing strategy to keep people in the Kindle fold and to get new customers who had the lack of library lending as their main objection to ever buying a Kindle.
And now people are complaining about how long it’s taking and twisting themselves into knots envisioning complex schemes of how it will work. How it will work is not your problem, it’s the problem of OverDrive and Amazon. And there’s lots of work to be done to make it simple so that even your “Mom” (why is it always her?) can use it.