Amazon.com announced the launch of an e-book lending library for Kindle users who are Amazon Prime members, allowing them to borrow books for free, as frequently as a book a month -- and without due dates.
The new service, called Kindle Owners' Lending Library, comes ahead of the Nov. 15 shipment date for the Kindle Fire, Amazon's Android-based tablet priced at US$199.
Books can be borrowed and read on all Kindle E Ink devices and the Kindle Fire, Amazon said. Only U. S. Amazon Prime members who own Kindle devices are eligible, thus excluding users of apps on other devices like the iPad and smartphones.
Customers can have one book out at a time, Amazon said Wednesday. When customers want to borrow a new book, any borrowed book can be returned right from their device. Notes, highlights and bookmarks in borrowed books will be saved, so users will have them later if they purchase or borrow again the book, it added.
Titles in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library come from a range of publishers under a variety of terms, Amazon said. The company said there were "thousands of books to borrow", but did not give a list of all the publishers who have signed up for the scheme. The number of books available in the library also appear to be limited to about 5,000 books.
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, Amazon said.