Last night, Amazon introduced their Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. This morning there is an announcement about it on Amazon’s front page. The Kindle Owner’s Lending Library is a new Kindle feature only for Amazon Prime Members. It is initially launching with about 5000 books (according to the Wall Street Journal article). Kindle owners (with Prime) can borrow one book a month for free, keep it as long as you like (all users one the account can read the book) and then return the book and get another one.
I have not looked deeply into the list of books, but there are mixed reviews about what is available. There are some new books and some popular books, but many of the books are backlist, previously free titles and Amazon Encore (Amazon’s own publishing arm) books. This is not surprising, they are going to be free books and publishers are not often fond of giving away books. But since you can only borrow 12 books a year, there will likely be enough books for most people to find a book a month. You will also be able to access your notes and highlights after you finish borrowing the book and if you later purchase the book the highlights and notes will be available in the book.
There are a couple of other negatives. First, it is not available for kindle apps (so if you read on iPad, iPhone, Android, etc) and do not have a physical kindle device, this will not be available for you. Second, at least initially, it can be a bit difficult to actually the books. They are marked as Amazon Prime books, but there does not seem to be a central location to find the books. They are not marked on your Amazon wishlist as being prime books or not. Third, for those of use that have many users on the account, coordinating who gets to borrow the book and then getting that book back before the next book may be challenging.
This is not a replacement for Library Lending (bookwi.se post), Kindle borrowing (bookwi.se post) or Lendle.me (Bookwi.se post). There are still good reasons to participate in all three services. Libraries have very different selections. My library only has about 900 kindle books. Kindle borrowing is still a feature and you still will want to borrow books from others because this is only one book a month. And because you may not personally know a lot of kindle owners, services like Lendle are helpful to find books to borrow.
Most likely, this is the ‘Netflix-like’ service that was rumored earlier this year. This also is another very good incentive to become a Prime member. I became a prime member about 2 years ago and it has served Amazon’s purpose. I order almost all online purchases from Amazon and with free 2 day shipping, Amazon’s prices are almost always best (and like Amazon hopes, I rarely think of the cost of the Prime membership as part of the regular price of an item.) Amazon Prime members also have access to their free video streaming service. While not nearly as good or complete as Netflix, it is a good service for those that also have Prime.
It makes sense that Amazon launches this right before they start shipping their Amazon Fire. The Fire is Amazon’s new tablet. And it comes with a 3 month trial to Prime. With a Prime membership the Fire will steam videos and now get one book a month free. Overall, while probably not a good enough reason to get Prime on its own, it is a great feature if you already have Prime or if you would the other features of Prime.