Amazon Unveils Kindle Owners' Lending Library

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Digital retailer Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) continues to build out its Kindle e-reader platform with the introduction of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, a service enabling its Amazon Prime members to "borrow" e-books for free, with no due dates.

The Kindle Owners' Lending Library touts thousands of free titles, including more than 100 current and former New York Times bestsellers ranging from Suzanne Collins' TheHunger Games trilogy to Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. Amazon Prime subscribers can borrow one e-book each month directly via Kindle device; Amazon's servers will save all notes, highlights and bookmarks in the event the consumer decides to purchase or re-borrow the title.

Amazon.com's existing Kindle Store offers more than a million e-books, most priced at $9.99 or less. According to Amazon, Kindle Owners' Lending Library titles originate from a number of publishers under a range of terms. In most cases, Amazon has agreed with publishers to include Kindle books for a fixed fee -- in some instances, the retailer is purchasing a title each time it is borrowed under standard wholesale terms as a no-risk trial, a move the company says is intended to illustrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunities inherent in the new lending service.

Amazon Prime is a $79 annual service that offers unlimited two-day shipping on all products sold and processed by the e-commerce giant as well as access to free streaming media services spotlighting roughly 13,000 feature films and television series. In recent weeks, the Amazon Prime library has grown to include content from the Fox, Disney-ABC and PBS libraries.

Amazon is bulking up its Prime offerings in advance of releasing its Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet. Shipping later this month and priced at $199 (compared to $499 for Apple's (NAS: AAPL) cheapest iPad), the Kindle Fire gives consumers a single, portable point of access to initiatives including the Kindle e-book catalog, Amazon Appstore for Android, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon MP3 and free Prime streaming services, with all content backed up in the cloud. Kindle Fire also heralds the launch of Amazon Silk, a new browser promising to accelerate the mobile web user experience by caching and compressing data and images.

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