Amazon lightens up on Kindle borrowing, offers more books for lending

Amazon has expanded the number of Kindle books available for lending to more than 100,000 titles that Amazon Prime members with Kindles can borrow for free as frequently as a book per month without due dates.

One of the frustrating aspects of moving over from owning paper books to digital copies is that you can't borrow and loan books so easily anymore.

It's not really something most consumers think about before buying an e-reader or tablet, but rather one of those things that creeps up on you after you've already taken the plunge.

So it's a pleasant surprise (at least for Kindle owners) that Amazon is making the rules for borrowing digital books a bit more flexible.

Specifically pertaining to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Amazon has expanded the number of Kindle books available for borrowing to more than 100,000 titles that Amazon Prime members with Kindles can borrow for free as frequently as a book per month without due dates.

Of course, the keywords in there were "Amazon Prime members," so that is limiting itself. However, for most of those Kindle Fire owners, that probably won't be much of an issue.

To open up the pickings to more than just older titles to a selection of newer hits that people might actually want to borrow, Amazon asserts that more than a third of the top 20 Kindle bestsellers in February are available to borrow for free.

By comparison, Amazon's largest competitor in this field, Barnes & Noble, still has rather strict lending regulations in place for the Nook platform. For example, if a book is even available for lending between Nook friends, you can only lend it once (ever) to one person, who has to finish reading the loaned book within 14 days.

Part of the reason why lending rules for digital books are so strict inevitably have to do with royalties. One could argue that if people can so easily lend and borrow paperbacks, why can't we do the same with the copies we paid the same amount for in a digital bookstore?

A simpler explanation could be that because e-books are just such new commodities to begin with, the publishing industry is still trying to figure the market out. Thus, we could (hopefully) see softer rules emerge within the next few years.

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