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Amazon introduces lending library for Kindles

By Peter Svensson
AP Technology Writer / November 3, 2011

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NEW YORK—Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday that it is starting a lending library for Kindle owners, letting them borrow one electronic book per month.

Borrowers have to subscribe to Amazon's Prime service, which provides free two-day shipping and streaming movies for $79 per year.

Amazon says the library has more than 5,000 books, including current bestsellers such as Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" trilogy.

The six biggest publishers -- Random House, HarperColllins, Penguin, MacMillan, Simon & Schuster and Hachette -- aren't participating. The "Big Six" have fought with Amazon over whether the publisher or Amazon gets to set the retail price of books.

Amazon says it's paying the participating publishers for the right to lend books, usually for a fixed fee. In some cases, it's paying the wholesale price every time a book is checked out.

The books can't be read on phones, PCs or tablet computers, even though there are Kindle apps for these devices. That restriction is reminiscent of Amazon's strategy of a few years ago, when the company restricted purchased books to being read on Kindles to drive sales of the e-reader devices.

"With this launch, we expect three immediate results: Kindle owners will read even more, publisher revenues will grow, and authors will see larger royalty checks," Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle content, said in a statement.

Kindle users recently got access to electronic books from public libraries as well. Those can be read in the Kindle apps.

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AP National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.