Amazon.com said Friday the new feature would be available later this year. Kindle users will be able to share books with each other for 14 days, and the person lending the book will not have access to it during the loan period.
The ability to share books has been a feature in Barnes & Noble's Nook from the start. B&N introduced the e-reader in October 2009. Amazon's upcoming Kindle feature appears to work the same way as the "LendMe" technology in the Nook.
Amazon did not say how books would be shared. Nook users can lend books over the device's 3G or Wi-Fi connections.
Providing the ability to share e-books takes the online world closer to how people use books offline. However, publishers, which already charge less for digital books, have resisted offering all works for digital lending. Amazon on Friday said not all e-books would be available for lending. "This is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending," the retailer said.
Along with the lending feature, Amazon said it would also make newspapers and magazines readable on the Kindle software available for Macs, PCs and a variety of mobile devices, including Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch: Research In Motion's BlackBerry and smartphones running Google's Android operating system. Currently, only e-books can be read through the software, while everything else is available only on the Kindle e-reader. Amazon will roll out the periodicals feature first to Apple products in the coming weeks, adding Android smartphones and other devices later.
Amazon made the announcement as B&N is apparently preparing to release a new version of the Nook. The bookseller has sent invitations for a media event Oct. 26, and industry observers believe an upgraded Nook will be introduced.