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Amazon loosens the reins for Kindle owners

One of the biggest complaints that e-book readers have had is that they aren’t allowed to do the things with e-books that they can do with regular books – namely, lend them to other people.

“Once we’ve paid for a book, we should be able to do anything we want with it,” they argue. “No-one tries to prevent us from lending a regular book, so why can’t we lend an e-book?”

Barnes & Noble recognized the problem when they introduced the Nook e-reader a year ago. Nook owners can “lend” out e-books for a maximum period of 14 days, during which the e-book isn’t available on the lender’s own device.

Now, Amazon has followed suit. Kindle owners will soon be able to loan an e-book to anyone with a Kindle or a Kindle app. Terms will essentially be the same as for the Nook: a 14-day period and the book cannot be read by the original owner while it’s on loan. In addition, the ability to loan a book will not be universal. Instead, the book publisher and/or rights holders will determine if each book can be lent.

The ability to lend to someone with a Kindle app – rather than requiring a Kindle device – is significant. For example, a single family can now pass an e-book around even if they only have one Kindle. Other family members will be able to read the book on a smartphone, an iPad, or a computer – anything that has the Kindle app installed.

In a related move, Amazon also announced that many newspapers and magazines will also be available on Kindle apps, meaning you don’t have to have your Kindle with you – or even own one –to access dozens of periodicals. Again, a Kindle app-enabled smartphone, iPad, or laptop will do the job just as well.

“Our vision is ‘buy once, read everywhere’”, wrote Amazon in a blog post. This clearly recognizes the intense competition for distribution that is shaping up in the world of instantly available apps. For example, fans of the New York Times can now receive electronic editions via the Kindle, the Nook, the iPhone, any number of Android smartphones, and even via Starbucks new Digital Network.

As newspapers and other periodicals desperately try to move towards an online subscription model, a share of significant revenue is at stake. Amazon figures that by loosening the reins a little, they have a better chance of keeping you in the stable.      

Comment by Milcah, posted 10/25/2010, 7:32 PM:

Thanks for sharing this information. Really good to know!
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