updated 10:10 am EDT, Thu November 3, 2011
Amazon Prime now includes free Kindle borrowing
Amazon bolstered Prime again on Thursday by starting up the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. As leaked, those who pay for the $79 yearly subscription can borrow from over 5,000 titles without extra cost. Somewhat like Amazon's video service, the collection is a mix of recent and sometimes classic titles, although there are no fixed dates and users only give up the books when they stop subscribing.
Like regular lending or purchased books, highlights and notes are saved even if a book goes away.
The online retailer also provided an inside look at the deal to show that it was absorbing costs from publishers refusing to adopt its business model. Although some were asking for a flat rate that could be factored into Prime, others were still treating them as book purchases. Amazon was buying these books each time they were borrowed in hopes of proving the lending system was worth following.
Amazon's unveiling comes just two weeks before the Kindle Fire and shows the portal trying to steer more customers towards the tablet. A Prime subscription now includes both unlimited streaming of Amazon's qualifying movies as well as a counterpart for books and the free two-day shipping for physical goods. Although the Kindle Fire is being sold at a loss to artificially build market share, Amazon is known to be counting on Prime subscriptions to generate the real profit.