According to Amazon, the Library is accessible to eligible U.S Amazon Prime members owning a Kindle device (the Library will not work on Kindle apps). It will allow them to choose from more than 5000 titles plus 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers, and literally borrow them. This option has no due date, so they can read the borrowed title for as long as they want. In case they want another one, though, they will have to wait for at least a month from the first borrowing, and will have to return the first title.
It is rumored that most of the books available for lending don’t even come close to the price of $6.6 (which is how much it will cost you per month to be a Prime member) and that the “current” New York Times Bestsellers are not that current after all. So if you are thinking of becoming a Prime member just to be able to use the Library, think twice. But if you plan to use its other conveniences such as free shipping and streaming video content, the $79 per year might just be a fair deal.
This initiative has a potential to expand in the future. Even if digitizing their backlists wouldn’t have generated enough profit in the past to support being available for sale alone, now, publishers are more than welcome to do it as Amazon is offering them money to make older books free and available to the library.
As Arthur Klebanoff, chief executive of e-publisher RosettaBook LLC, explains that the reason for him putting one of Mr. Covey’s titles available under a flat-fee arrangement is his belief that it will spur sales of other titles by Mr. Covey, he adds:
“I’m attracted to the incremental promotion/visibility for participating titles… All site promotion, especially of backlist titles, drives sales in the Kindle Store.”
Currently the scheme looks like this to me: more publishers – more interesting free titles – more Prime users – more shopping in the Kindle store – more cash for the publishers through their non lendable titles – and in the end – more cash for Amazon. The circle is closed and everybody seems happy.