Friday, November 4, 2011

On Amazon Kindle new lending library: The good, the bad and the ugly

Yesterday Amazon opened the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, allowing Amazon Prime members to rent one digital book per month for free. Right now, this library includes 5,000 titles, including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers.

Coming from Amazon, this is a big step in the ebook space and we thought it's worth looking into three consequences of it: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good: If you are a Kindle holder and also Amazon Prime member you just got yourself a free ebook every month. This is also good news to ebook lending fans in general - the market is and will get more competitive and readers will be the ones that will profit from it eventually. For example, right now ebook lending services such as eBookFling and BookLending, as well as libraries, let you rent ebooks only up to 14 days. Now that Amazon is offering you to rent a book for one month, there's a good chance other players in the market will eventually try to offer a similar offer.

The bad: Amazon is conquering another piece of the ebook market. It's true that right now it's only a pilot program offered to Prime members, but how much time do you think it will take Amazon to dominate the market? Not too much I guess. So even though the entrance of Amazon to this market will benefit readers (see the good part), it also helps to strengthen the status of Amazon as the most powerful player in the book market. And with Amazon exploring other parts of this market like publishing and self-publishing, it looks like that in couple of years Amazon won't be just a powerful player in the book market, but it will be the book market. This is definitely not a desirable future for this industry.

The  ugly: This move is bad news for brick and mortar bookstores in general and independent bookstores specifically, as it will help to energize the transformation to ebooks  (if this trend needs any help at all) and make more people do their ebook activity, whether its shopping or renting through Amazon. Not to mention that it provides readers that are not Prime members a good reason to consider paying the $79 annual fee and become Prime members. And once they become Prime members, with the free two day shipping, there's also a good chance they will start doing their paper book shopping only on Amazon, enjoying this shipping benefit. Again, not a desirable situation if you're an independent bookstore or even Barnes & Noble.

To read more updates on the ebook lending space check our ebook lending page.