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11/3/2011
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Amazon Opens Kindle Library For Prime Subscribers

More than 5,000 titles are available for Kindle owners to borrow and read at their leisure.

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Amazon is offering Kindle-owning Amazon Prime members in the U.S. a new benefit: the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library at no charge.

In September, the company introduced Kindle Library Lending, a program that allowed Kindle owners to borrow books from some 11,000 public libraries. The Kindle Owners' Lending Library differs in that it involves borrowing books from Amazon rather than a public library and is available exclusively to those who pay $79 annually for an Amazon Prime membership.

Amazon Prime began as a membership program that offered free shipping for most items purchased from Amazon.com and subsequently expanded to include unlimited streaming of some 13,000 movies and TV shows. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated earlier this year that there are about 5 million Amazon Prime subscribers.

[ Find out more about the Kindle Fire. View Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour. ]

The Kindle Owners' Lending Library includes over 5,000 titles, about 100 of which are currently on the New York Times' list of bestsellers. Some of these include Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Big Short, and Liars' Poker by Michael Lewis, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Members may borrow one electronic book per calendar month, with no due date. Subsequent books may not be borrowed until the previously borrowed title is returned. Bookmarks and annotations are stored in the reader's Amazon.com account and can be restored if the reader subsequently purchases the Kindle ebook.

Amazon says titles in its Kindle Owners' Lending Library come from publishers under a variety of terms. For most titles in the library, the company says it is paying an undisclosed fixed fee to publishers. For other titles, Amazon is purchasing the title under its standard wholesale terms each time the book in question is borrowed.

The new lending program arrives less than two weeks before the debut of Amazon Kindle Fire, which is scheduled to be released on November 15.

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