Amazon announced the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which lets Kindle owners who are also Amazon Prime members borrow ebooks for free with no due dates. Readers can borrow one ebook at a time and keep it for an unlimited amount of time; they can borrow up to one book per month from a list of thousands of available titles, including more than 100 New York Times bestsellers. Annotations, highlighting, and bookmarks will be saved if the reader chooses to purchase or re-borrow the book, but the offering is only available to owners of actual Kindle devices, including the upcoming Kindle Fire tablet—it will not be available through Kindle apps.
The announcement comes just days before Barnes & Noble is scheduled to announce a new NOOK e-reader and tablet device. Amazon established agreements with several publishers in order to add titles to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library: most of the titles are provided to Amazon by publishers for a fixed fee, but in some cases, Amazon will purchase the title each time a reader borrows it. This second type of agreement acts as a trial for publishers (ones that may need convincing) to observe the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that the lending service presents.
Amazon Prime members already benefit from unlimited streaming of nearly 13,000 movies and TV programs and receive free 2-day shipping through Amazon. Membership is $79 per year, and Amazon offers a 1-month free trial for customers who want to try out the service.