This is big. Huge. Massive.
Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.
Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer's annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.
"Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced."
I think that Amazon has once again outflanked the competition with this move. Sure, Barnes and Noble is doing the same thing, and Amazon's Kindle ecosystem extends to devices such as the iPad and other readers (so on the face of it seems like a win for everyone that supports the Kindle app). It could also be argued that Amazon is playing catch-up here as others are already using the Overdrive to do the same thing.
On a small scale, maybe. But what's important here is the bigger picture.
Amazon has built up a massive digital ecosystem, ranging from books and music and audiobooks to streaming movies and Android software, and this move adds another feature to that ever-growing machine. And best of all for the end user, it's something that they can take advantage of without having to buy a specific reader since it works with the Kindle app or desktop software. Amazon is using this to further cement the Amazon brand into people's minds (and what better way to win over the love of readers than to make it easier to get books from a library?), and establish the Amazon Kindle ebook format as a dominant format, while at the same time showing the competition who's boss.
After all, iTunes has got nothing to match this.
All Amazon now needs is a hub for this digital empire ... something like a tablet perhaps?
Does this expanded free offering make you more tempted to buy into the Kindle ecosystem?