Amazon Prime’s new killer app: Kindle books by subscription

This is pretty interesting. Amazon.com tonight announced the “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library” — a virtual book-borrowing service for its Kindle devices. Not for Kindle apps on other devices, but only for Amazon’s own Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablet.

It’s a no-extra-charge addition to the company’s existing Amazon Prime subscription service, adding digital-book lending to streaming video and free shipping as a benefit of the $79/year cost.

Amazon says the available library consists of more than 5,000 titles, including more than 100 current and former New York Times bestsellers.

In his traditional note on the Amazon home page, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tonight touted examples including Water for ElephantsMoneyball, Fast Food Nation, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Kitchen Confidential.

Bottom line, it’s a big move by Amazon in an attempt to give its Kindle devices an edge against Apple’s iPad and Barnes & Nobles’s Nook, and boost Amazon Prime subscriptions at the same time.

Here’s how it works, via the help page for the new service: “One book can be borrowed at a time, and there are no due dates. You can borrow a new book as frequently as once a month, directly on your registered Kindle device, and you will be prompted to return the book that you are currently borrowing.”

In other words, only one book at a time, and only one new book a month.

Sounds pretty good, at least to the ears of this Kindle-owning Amazon Prime subscriber. The major book publishers don’t like the idea as much.

“None of the six largest publishers in the U.S. is participating,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “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.”

The announcement follows Amazon’s rollout in September of a U.S. public library lending program for Kindle e-books.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to the Kindle team on a fantastic new feature!

  • Anonymous

    As usual the content publishers are not playing ball. But Amazon is usupring them through their own publishing program. Eventually Amazon will be the biggest publisher of e-Books in the world.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Very important point, thanks for bringing it up. Amazon’s move into publishing makes a lot more sense when you consider what it means for this project.

  • Ramanthan

    The feature should be upgrade to add support for any book once two or three weeks to make it popular about big book buyers.

  • Guest

    I like that, but only for Kindle and Kindle fire. Look like don’t work in other tablet. 

  • Ready to Read

    At one book a month to borrow, there will still be plenty of sales. My daughter and I can go through a book in a matter of hours to a day or two. With out being able to borrow another one for another month, we will be buying to read. I don’t think the publishers have anything to worry about.