Amazon really wants you to pay $79 per year to become an Amazon Prime member. Initially that subscription fee only entitled customers to free 2-day shipping on all packages. But earlier this year the company started letting Prime members stream thousands of TV shows and movies for free. Now Amazon is adding free eBook loans to the mix.
Here’s how it works. If you own an Amazon Kindle and have a Prime membership, you can go to the Kindle Store on your device and choose the Lending Library option. Find a book you want, and click the “Borrow for Free” button instead of the Buy button. Users can borrow one book at a time.
You can keep the book for as long as you like, which sets the Lending Library apart from a normal library — but when you want to borrow a new book you’ll need to return the first one.
There are some caveats. First, you need to own a Kindle device. The Kindle apps for iOS, Android, PC, or other platforms won’t do. Second, you only get to borrow one book per month. Third, and most important, the Wall Street Journal reports that the 6 largest publishers want nothing to do with the new service which will severely limit the titles available.
Honestly, you probably get a wider selection of books to choose from if you just visit your public library website and look for books that you can check out on your Kindle.
But Amazon makes its money by selling books and other products, not by giving things away for free. So clearly the company is hoping that it will not only drum up some additional interest in the Amazon Prime service with the new Lending Library, but also convince people to spend more time reading, which could also lead them to spend more money on digital books.
Still, with thousands of eBooks to read and videos to watch, $79 per year is starting to look like a small price to pay even if you never order anything from Amazon that needs to be shipped.