Following the recent release of the ad-enabled Kindle with a $25 price cut, Amazon today announced yet another potential cost saving feature, Kindle Library Lending. Launching later this year, this feature will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the U.S. just as you would do with physical books. The new feature works with all Kindle devices, as well as Kindle reading apps, so even if you're not invested in the hardware, you can still 'check out' an eBook.
"We're excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries," said Jay Marine, Director, Amazon Kindle. "Customers tell us they love Kindle for its Pearl e-ink display that is easy to read even in bright sunlight, up to a month of battery life, and Whispersync technology that synchronizes notes, highlights, and last page read between their Kindle and free Kindle apps.
"We're doing a little something extra here," Marine continued. "Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced."
Amazon stopped short of addressing a handful of obvious questions, such as how long users will be able to borrow books for, whether or not books can be re-borrowed multiple times (and how often), and which titles will be available through the Library Lending feature. But depending on how it's executed, this could turn out to be a huge advantage for Amazon in the eBook reader wars.