Late last night Amazon launched the long anticipated Amazon Prime ebook lending library (here), and it looks to be a better deal than I thought. You have to have a Kindle and a Prime membership, and you're limited to just a single title each month. But the selection still makes this a decent deal, especially considering it doesn't cost many more than the current prime membership.
It's only limited to a single title a month, but here's the detail isn't obvious: there's no waiting list for the ebook. If you get a hankering for a particular title you can go get it right now, no matter how popular it is. I'm on multiple waiting lists at my local ebook library, so I really appreciate the lack of a delay.
This new service is also not limited to just the ebooks purchased by my local library. While it doesn't include all of the tens of thousands of ebooks sold by Amazon, it does cover far more titles than the 900 or so that my local library purchased through OverDrive.
I just got the first volume in the Hunger Games trilogy. That's a title that you just know has a waiting list and I got it in seconds.
There aren't any due dates, and that means you can hold on to a titles across several months. Students might want to take note of this and check to see which textbooks are included; you might be able to save a considerable sum of money by borrowing textbooks.
Folks, I'm sorry of this is turning into a product pitch but I happen to think it's a pretty sweet deal.
It is limited to Prime members who are also Kindle owners, and that means it's also limited to the US only (plus people who skirted the rules). But it does cover all the Kindle models - including the original ( I checked). Unfortunately it's only accessible from the Kindle itself and the poor ebookstore design is really going to hamper it. But at least after you request a title you can then go to the Manage Your Kindle page and send the ebook to other Kindles.
Students, study groups, and libraries that lend Kindles might want to look into the fact that a loaned ebook can be read on several Kindles at the same time; a study group could share a textbook off the one account. There's some interesting possibilities there.
Update: I hadn't confirmed this when I wrote my post but none of the Price Fix 6 are participating. In the case of 2, I'm not surprised (Macmillan & HarperCollins) but I would have thought that the other 4 would want the money.
All in all, this isn't an earth shattering kaboom but it is going to leave a nice crater in the ebook library market. We're going to notice its presence in the next few months. This would be a good week to follow the various librarian blogs and see what they think.
P.S. Amazon launched this on the one night that I took nyquil (I'm recovering from both a cold and a sinus infection) and went to bed early. Maybe I should take a double dose and go to bed at 6pm just to see if Amazon might adopt Epub3 in my absence. It's worth a shot, don't you think?