The title is in caps, because I really didn't expect the Kindle Owners Lending Library program would actually be put into effect, knowing how stubborn some publishers are about allowing even public libraries to lend their e-books. But those particular publishers may not be involved in this lending library either. We'll see. [ See Update below, added same night. ]
Also adding Gizmodo's realistically cynical, yet upbeat take on this, calling it, despite noting what it lacks, "Officially the greatest deal in Tech" and "the smartest digital ticket around."
Also see the steps taken when borrowing a Prime book.
I'm posting the news first and can add more details as we learn them later on. I did just tweet this news as it's quite a coup, at least in my view. And the Kindle Fire IS considered a Kindle device for this.
UPDATE for more details and caveats
The Wall St. Journal's Jeffrey A. Trachtenburg and Stu Woo have some salient info on all this, from talks with Amazon and publishers. Points made (bold facing mine):
1. Slightly more than 5,000 titles will be involved.[End of update]
2. NONE of the 6 largest publishers in the US is participating ("Big6" who have been driving up prices and who have fixed them to be the same at all e-bookstores dealing with them, two of whom refuse to offer e-books to public libraries).
The WSJ guys say:
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 obok retailers."
3. The program "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.
4. Getting people to join Prime is a focus.
5. While e-book borrowing at public libraries had been rising 10% to 15% a month, Seattle's electronic-resources librarian Kirk Blankenship said that it has risen 32% in the month after Kindle books became available. He's not worried about Amazon starting its own lending service because "There's a lot of people that can't afford Amazon Prime. We also want to be a resource for people looking for other things beyond the best-seller list."
6. Some e-book publishers see the program as a positive, and they quote Arthur Klebanoff, CEO of RosettaBooks LLC, who is looking forward to the incremental exposure for participating titles and feels that "all site promotion, especially of backlist titles, drives sales in the Kindle Store and so he is providing about 200 titles.
Amazon's announcement details
The product page says that Prime users will be able to "choose from thousands of books to borrow for free..." [which is how borrowing usually works] "...including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers -- as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates.
I'm impressed Amazon pulled this off. Their announcement makes the following points also (bold-facing is mine):
' No other e-reader or ebookstore offers such a service. With an annual Prime membership, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library is included at no additional cost.
Millions of Prime members enjoy free two-day shipping, unlimited streaming of nearly 13,000 movies and TV shows, and now thousands of books to borrow for free with a Kindle.
"Owning a Kindle just got even better. Today, we're introducing a new Prime benefit built for Kindle: The Kindle Owners' Lending Library," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. "Prime Members now have exclusive access to a huge library of books to read on any Kindle device at no additional cost and with no due dates."
The Kindle Owners' Lending Library offers access to a wide array of categories and genres in fiction and non-fiction, and includes popular titles such as Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Big Short and Liars' Poker by Michael Lewis, TheHunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen --plus award-winning books such as The Finkler Question and Guns, Germs, and Steel, memoirs such as Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, and motivational books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Just as with any other Kindle book, your notes, highlights and bookmarks in borrowed books will be saved, so you'll have them later if you purchase or re-borrow the book.
Books are borrowed from a Kindle device, and customers can have one book out at a time. When customers want to borrow a new book, any borrowed book can easily be returned right from their device.
Titles in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library come from a range of publishers under a variety of terms. For the vast majority of titles, Amazon has reached agreement with publishers to include titles for a fixed fee.
In some cases, Amazon is purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader under standard wholesale terms as a no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents.
"The Kindle Owners' Lending Library is a great new benefit for Kindle owners and an entirely new growth opportunity for authors and publishers," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Kindle Content. "With the growth in Prime membership and the recent addition of Prime Instant Video, we've been able to broaden our relationships with movie and TV studios such as CBS, Fox, and NBCUniversal and significantly increase their revenue. We're excited to expand that investment to books - with this launch, we expect three immediate results: Kindle owners will read even more, publisher revenues will grow, and authors will see larger royalty checks."
"We're excited to offer titles from our ebook 'Chapters' series, which covers some of the world's most popular destinations, to members of Kindle Owners' Lending Library," says John Boris, EVP Lonely Planet. "Our ebooks have done incredibly well on Kindle and this is a great way to showcase our travel expertise to an even broader audience."
"We're excited about any program that helps readers discover our authors and their books," said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive and Chairman of F+W Media Inc. "We think this will lead to more people reading F+W's books, and more profit for our authors." '
To Learn More About the Program
Amazon adds that to learn more about the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, visit the Kindle Owners Lending Library page.
1. "If you have already borrowed a book in that calendar month, you are not yet eligible to borrow a new book until the next calendar month."
So I can't experiment much, as I could return the book I borrowed but I won't be able to borrow another one until December on that account. My Kindle 2 on that account isn't allowed to borrow as I've reached my limit for the month, the Kindle Store tells me when I tried to get one with the Kindle 2.
2. You CAN share that borrowed book with the other Kindles by going to your "manageyourkindle" page and sending 'copies' to the other Kindles to read.
The restrictions make sense to me, as Amazon is a store and "for profit," rather than a non-profit library. And authors need support (most publishers too). But as a non-fiction fan, I'm already chafing at the bit as I saw a couple of other e-books I'd like right away. Not good for impulse buyers, so I'll contain myself.
UPDATE2 - You can browse, at Amazon, the 5,000+ Kindle books that are lendable under the PRIME Kindle Owners Lending Library program. There are several sorting methods available at the upper right with genres and subcategories at the left! I explain more about this at my original blog article on the easier-to-browse listing.
Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources. Top 100 free bestsellers. Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.
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