Amazon Prime members will now be able to borrow one ebook for free each month as part of their annual subscription. Only one free ebook is available per month. If you finish your book and want to borrow another one, you will have to wait until the following month. All notes, bookmarks, and highlights will be saved in case you decide to buy the ebook in the future. The Kindle book can only be borrowed for Kindle devices, not Kindle apps running on smartphones, tablets, or PCs. Borrowing the book is as easy as buying an ebook from Amazon with a Prime icon showing next to any borrowable ebook.
Amazon claims thousands of Kindle books will be available in the program, though it appears the major publishers have not signed on to the program yet. So you definitely will not be able to borrow every ebook that Amazon currently sells. At least not yet.
It looks like the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a test to see if there is demand for a subscription based ebook model. I can easily see Amazon improving the program to cover all of their Kindle books and offering something like three ebooks per month for an additional $50 per year. The revenue will probably be less for publishers but they might be interested in the recurring revenue stream that could be gained from older titles.
If the lending program does become popular it will be bad news for public libraries. If voters start paying Amazon for an affordable way to conveniently borrow ebooks they will start to wonder why they are paying for a public library subscription as well. Especially when the library subscription involves an extremely complicated search and checkout process and involves a lengthy wait and a smaller selection.
Kindle Owner’s Lending Library could be the program that causes ebooks to be the end of public libraries.