Amazon created quite a reaction when it recently unveiled its own idea of a public library: free lending of one e-book at a time to anyone with a Kindle e-book reader and a $79 annual subscription to the Amazon Prime service. Amazon states that:

“Kindle owners can now choose from thousands of books to borrow for free, including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers — as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. No other e-reader or ebook store offers such a service.”

So is this “Kindle Owner’s Lending Library” a major threat to public libraries or not?

A report in Time Techland, a publication of Time Inc. indicate some major limitations:


  • Of the 100 most popular items in the service, 22 are public domain titles that are available for free elsewhere, 10 are workout books and videos that can not be viewed on most Kindles, and 18 are instructional and self-help books.
  • None of the “Big 6” major publishers are participating in this service.
  • The article summarizes: “That’s not to say you won’t find anything worth reading but to find the good stuff, you’ll have to do a lot of digging.”

The challenge for libraries is to have a top quality e-book service that does provide what people really want to read.