Amazon Gets Into the E-Book Lending Business

In regards to electronic media, do you consider yourself an owner or a borrower? If you had the option of renting a file and owning a file, which option would you take? What about if the format being ...
Amazon Gets Into the E-Book Lending Business
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In regards to electronic media, do you consider yourself an owner or a borrower? If you had the option of renting a file and owning a file, which option would you take? What about if the format being discussed is electronic books? If you had the option of buying an e-book for your new Kindle or borrowing it, what choice would you make?

Well, if you have an Amazon Kindle and/or, are holding out for the Kindle Fire, and are a member of the Amazon Prime service, you’ll soon be able to borrow e-books instead of making a full purchase. The service is called the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library and it does pretty much what it says. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime and have a Kindle — and only a Kindle, no other tablet devices apply — you’ll be allowed to take part in the book-borrowing service, one that, according to the Wall Street Journal, has some publishers balking at Amazon’s book-lending strategy.

Apparently, only libraries are “allowed” to lend books, at least in the eyes of the publishers at odds with Amazon’s new service. Before that, however, here’s a little more information about Amazon’s Lending Library:

Kindle owners can now choose from thousands of books to borrow for free, including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers — as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. No other e-reader or ebook store offers such a service.

Now for the between the lines information: Even though other tablets can open Kindle-formatted e-books, they will not be able to do so with the books being lent out. These borrowed files can only be viewed on a Kindle device. The WSJ article clarifies:

The new program, called Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, cannot be accessed via apps on other devices, which means it won’t work on Apple Inc.’s iPad or iPhone, even though people can read Kindle books on both devices. This restriction is intended to drive Kindle device sales, says Amazon.

As Amazon’s introductory text indicates, those who take part in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library service will only be able to borrow one book at a time, and only one book per month.

Keep that in mind, speed readers.

To access the lending library, potential users have to be enrolled in Amazon Prime, which costs $79 a year. Granted, the Prime membership gives customers access to more than just e-books to borrow — Prime members get special shipping rates and access to Amazon’s library of streaming movies and TV shows — but you still have to pay to play in Amazon’s digital lending library. For those who are interested in taking advantage of the service, Amazon has a pictorial how-to regarding the acquisition of new titles:

Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire

As you can see, if you have experience navigating the web with other mobile devices, accessing the lending library with your Kindle won’t be difficult at all.

Regarding the publisher backlash towards Amazon’s e-book lending service, the WSJ has more:

None of the six largest publishers in the U.S. is participating. Several senior publishing executives said recently they were concerned that a digital-lending program of the sort contemplated by Amazon would harm future sales of their older titles or damage ties to other book retailers.

Apparently, I’m being naive because I’m having a hard time seeing how increased exposure to these products is a bad thing. What if someone like the book/author enough to actually purchase the work(s) related to the e-book being borrowed? Does that hurt future sales or are these publishers worried that once people start borrowing, their desire to own will completely go away?

Whatever the case, Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library is now live, but don’t forget about the Amazon Prime membership, which is also a requirement.

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