Amazon news: Public library integration for Kindle and eBook rental rumor

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Amazon announced last week it was launching a program with 11,000 public libraries where Kindle owners can borrow electronic books--just as they can physical books--to read on the Kindle. 

In addition, several publications reported a rumor that Amazon was working on a new eBook rental service that would work in a similar fashion to a Netflix subscription for videos. Users would pay a monthly fee and can read all the books they want.

First of all, the library program gives Kindle customers the ability to borrow books from their local library and have access to all of the Kindle features such as margin notes and highlighting. As Jay Marine, director at Kindle points out, this will be a huge boon to students who can borrow books and mark them up, then return them and maintain control of their markup.

"We're even doing a little extra here--normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're fixing this by extending our Whispersync technology to library books, so your notes, highlights and bookmarks are always backed up and available the next time you check out the book or if you decide to buy the book," he said.

And this feature is available on Kindle Apps for Android and iOS, not just for Kindle device owners.

As for the rumor, The eBook Reader blog reports that a member of the Mobile Read forum uncovered a clue in the Amazon source code about a possible eBook rental system that would enable Kindle owners to pay a fee and access an unlimited number of books each month. 

Jeff Rutherford, a PR professional who owns his own eBook publishing company, Delabarre Publishing, worries that such a service would cut out small publishers like his company.

Writing on Google+, Rutherford had this to say: "I have to see how this will work for small publishers. I'm leery. Will Amazon pay you a ratio of how often your eBooks are purchased compared to larger NYC publishers? If so, I'll only make pennies, if that from this--as a publisher. Or, they may just leave independent publishers out of this service all together--which certainly puts us on a very uneven playing field."

Regardless, it's just a rumor for now based on reading source code as evidence, but a rental program for a single monthly fee would make a lot of sense for a service like Amazon to provide for its eBook reading customers--and it's certainly something worth watching.

For more information:
- see the Amazon press release regarding local library support
- see The eBook Reader blog post regarding the rental rumor

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