Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Prime's KINDLE OWNERS LENDING LIBRARY w/ NYT bestseller books - *UPDATED with details and caveats* - Update2


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.

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.
[End of update]

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, 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.  [Link: ] [ShortLink: ]  To learn about all of the additional benefits included with Amazon Prime, or to start an Amazon Prime free trial visit the Amazon Prime page. [Link: ]

Also be sure to read their Kindle Owners Lending Library help pages for all the details and fine print.
  For instance,
  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.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

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  1. Is there any way to see what books are available? I have a feeling this might be like the library lending where it has tons of book, but few worth reading.

  2. The effort is appreciated, but the titles seem largely the already discounted ones, and the interface for finding them (either via the Kindle or on the individual book pages) is awful. It's very reminiscent of the Prime video streaming, which is woefully lacking for decent content and seems to exist solely for the sake of saying they have streaming video. If the whole point is a value add-on for Prime, that's one thing, but more and more Amazon's press releases tout them as reasons to spring for the srvice, and they're most definitely not worth the price of entry.

  3. Dan and Cameron,
    See my update with a couple of caveats.

    As for Prime video, I personally like the documentaries available! that are not on Netflix (which is my first place to go) and material from BBC that Netlfix doesn't have and even more-current video recently contracted for from PBS.

    Now they've added Disney/ABC items (full past series) and I'm a fan of some ABC series.

    Others like the bestseller books (while I don't tend to go for them) but there's a difference between discounts and borrowing and if one is alraedy a Prime member for other reasons, this is just another good reason, as Dan said.

    If one isn't a member, it could seem like a good added incentive for some, with the other reasons.

    For me, it's been well worth it, while for others it definitely wouldn't be. Value add-on, yes, and a lot of it has to do with what each one values or not.

    If books have been bestsellers or are bestsellers currently, even if not with the Seal of Approval from the Big6, there are those who have valued them.

    It's a glass half-full, half-empty thing.

    Some of us got Prime just for the 2-day free shipping :-)

    Thanks for the quick feedback, by the way.

  4. This is pretty cool, I must say. 'Discovery' is something of an issue (since you can really only do it on Kindle), but as long as you can narrow down your interest to a category, there aren't so very many to sift through. And it is nice that there's no due date, because in general the things I would get would be lower-priority reading than books I purchase or borrow from a library.

    Like anything else that is 'free', most of it is not that interesting to any given person but with more than 5000 to choose from, there's more than enough to last, given you can only get one per month at most.

    Note it is another way for Amazon to annoy the Agency 6, who can't participate in this form of promotion even if they wanted to, because of their own terms and conditions. I think ebook consumers almost universally would like to see Agency pricing go away, so I'm very glad they are keeping the pressure on.

    It's not something anyone would pay $79 a year for, but certainly it's icing on the cake if you can justify Prime membership otherwise.

  5. I'm a bit confused -- according to the "Kindle Owners' Lending Library" page, this feature "works with all Kindle generations." I have a 2nd Generation Kindle. Do I need a software update? When I go to the page for one of their lendable books (looking at Michael Lewis's "The Big Short..."), there is only a button to Buy for $7.17, no "Borrow" button. They do recognize me as a Prime Member, and detail the Lending Library feature. How do I actually borrow?

    And yes, I've been "Prime" for a long time too, I'm sure I get more than $79 of shipping fees each year. Everything else, the stream videos and Lending Library, just icing on the cake.

  6. Peter,
    Looking at the bottom of the Prime Kindle Owners Lending Library product page at, there are images of "How to borrow from your Kindle.

    Mine is different in that "Kindle Owners Lending Library doesn't show up under MENU the way it shows there.

    It is accessible in several ways but the easiest one is to get to the Kindle Store and click on BROWSE / "See all"

    and then when I press Menu, I get the Menu they show, which has "Kindle Owners' Lending Library" option at the bottom.

    When I click on that, each book has "Prime" showing at the right. For me, non Fiction is the thing but I can't choose that on this "All" (books) page.

    The resulting lending list is too long to browse, at 5000+, so I chose an option in small print at the upper right, "View Subcategories" ...

    Then I clicked "Biographies and Memoirs" and after getting the smaller list (only a couple of hundred), I then clicked on a book that looked interesting. That showed me a "BUY" button, an "or" and then "Borrow for Free" for 'Prime Members Only'

    Clicking on "Borrow for Free" caused the book to be sent to me.

    My Kindle 2 is powering up because I had not touched it for about 2 months and I'll let you know what I see on that but I won't be on my computer for another 8 hours.

    Try going to Kindle Community forums and ask there what other Kindle-2 members are finding if what I detailed above doesn't work for you.

    Good luck! Contrary to my expectations I see more books there of interest to me than I thought there would be and I don't have to deal with umpteen other people having it 'out' as I do with the public library ones :-)

    Like Tom, I love the "no due date" aspect too as the book would be lower priority for me to read than ones I have paid for recently, in most cases - though I see one I want to read right away actually.
    Maybe I'll post this as a general followup...

  7. Is there some trick to this? I've been a Prime member for nearly six years and when I attempt to borrow a book, my Kindle shows me a page telling me I have to enroll in Prime.

  8. Rob in Denver,
    It needs to be the main Kindle on your account, although you can use manageyourkindle page to send it to other Kindles on your account afterward.

    Do you have Kindle 3? Or Kindle 2? If the latter maybe you need to get a software update?

    Did you see the steps I took to get one (in a later blog article).

    If you still can't download it, call kindle support at 866-321-8851 and they can fix it if something is amiss.

    Good luck!

  9. I'm the guest on my wife's Prime account, so I've had to log in as her to watch the Prime videos. Now that I can't use the new Kindle Owners Lending Library without upgrading my Amazon account to Prime, I figured it was time to pay the extra $79. If I borrow a book a month it will pay for itself, and I do enjoy the videos. Well played, Amazon!

  10. Ah, Amazon has found a way to nab you, Len! :-) I agree. I remember when Prime brought only 2-day free shipping! Who would have thought it would come to this?

  11. hi Andrys - Thanks for the info and follow-up. I was able to access the "Lending Library" on my 2nd gen Kindle, no software update needed. It's pretty clunky, guess to be expected on an older, 3G unit. I didn't actually "borrow" anything, need to be a bit selective with only one per month.

    I do wish one could initiate this using the regular Amazom web site, or at least search there for lendable books. I've actually never used my Kindle to buy a book, just too slow and limited.

    Thanks again.

  12. Here's a link to see the available titles for Prime Lending. Keep in mind that you can only borrow them directly from your Kindle, but this gives you an easier way to peruse the titles and read the descriptions before you do the borrowing thing.

  13. Vicki,
    Yes, that's the link that I made in my later blog article on how to browse the listing online at Amazon via a normal web browser.

    That's at

    Then I added that "" shortcut I made to this article too, as Update2, near the bottom. The link uses that shortcut.

    Glad that people are finding it. PublishersLunch figured out the general link to all of Prime for the various hardcovers, paperbacks, etc., so I just did one for specifically Kindle Prime, which is the lending feature.


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