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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Hits 100K Milestone; Can It Continue?

Amazon’s controversial Kindle Owners’ Lending Library has proven to be a hit among readers and an appealing option for many self-publishers, but there still remains some question as to how successful it can hope to be as an ongoing project.  The basic organization is simple.  Authors who are willing to make their work available exclusively through the Kindle Store will find themselves with the option to allow lending through the library.  When included, they get a certain share of the money pool being filled in each month by Amazon to keep the service going.  The more popular a book is among borrowers, the larger the share of that pool that goes to the contributing author.  For many self publishers who find they make the majority of their income through the Kindle anyway, going exclusive is not really a big deal in terms of income alteration.  The worst that can happen is that nobody borrows the book, and even then it doesn’t cost anything significant.

Leaving aside the philosophical issues in choosing to contribute to Amazon’s ever-growing list of exclusive content, which is an interesting and complex subject for debate that will probably come up again at greater length in its own post to better do it justice, as the number of participating authors grows we may see a drop in interest among new potential contributors.  The restrictions regarding access to the library play a fairly large part in this.  Each borrower must own a Kindle eReader or Kindle Fire, be an active Amazon Prime member, and remember to make use of their one monthly rental each time around if an author is to get anything.

This is a very specific audience to be targeting with your marketing and may prove to be somewhat hard to pin down.  Add into this the fact that, while the number of Kindle Editions now available through the library has grown past 100,000 titles, the amount of money being competed over has not been increased in any ongoing way and you have a complicated decision presented to self publishers.  A highly limited number of readers needs to be enticed to choose your book from an increasingly large pool of options in an environment where the reward for each individual choice is likely to count for less due to the pre-determined maximum award size and ever-increasing number of Kindle owners.

Can Amazon hope to keep the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library growing at a decent pace?  Chances are good that they can.  Will it continue to be a persuasive reason for new authors to agree to exclusivity?  That might be harder to keep up.  As numbers come out and we learn at least enough about the big success stories to determine how little of the cash pool was available for other authors to divvy up, we should be able to get a clearer picture of how well somebody can expect to do through this program,  After all, even if you were only making $1 per book sold on each of your hypothetical 30 annual sales through Barnes & Noble, that’s better than getting nothing at all from a lending library for Kindle owners.  A clearer picture should emerge as more time passes, but without a new source of big name titles or an increase in funding, Amazon’s Kindle Edition lending effort seems like it might have a limited shelf life.

Penguin, Overdrive, and Amazon: Kindle Library Lending Gets Complicated

Kindle owners found themselves targeted recently in a fairly unpleasant way.  Penguin USA, one of the largest publishers in the world, decided that it would be a smart business move to pull their entire collection of publications from libraries across the country for Kindle owners.  Everybody else, including owners of competing eReaders like the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch, could still get these books.  Now, while things have been temporarily dealt with since then – Penguin has temporarily stopped singling out the Kindle users entirely – new Penguin books will not be made available anymore and there is reason to believe that the event will recur unless Penguin and OverDrive (the service providing eBook lending services for most libraries these days) are able to work out a deal by the end of the year.

Neither Penguin nor OverDrive has said anything about the exact details of Penguin’s problems.  OverDrive was simply sent word to disable the “Get for Kindle” functionality for all Penguin eBooks immediately.  There was not even a warning sent to the affected libraries before the change took effect, which led to a great deal of ill will.  These libraries purchase each copy of the eBooks they rent out and as such were left sitting on the results of essentially wasted money that could not be lent out despite Kindle-owning customer demand.  The expected outcry for massive refunds, which would certainly have garnered a great deal of public sympathy, might well explain Penguin’s temporary capitulation.

Many have believably argued that this is a direct response to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library that Amazon launched recently for their Prime members.  The timing certainly fits.  Amazon got around the fact that major publishers have refused to buy into this new program by focusing on their KDP titles, smaller publishers, and by outright purchase of each rented eBook that they could get their hands on through wholesale arrangements.  This last move is what causes the ill will since many publishers and authors feel that this exceeds the scope of their current relationships with Amazon.

While nobody involved in the Prime lending library is directly losing money, a major worry in the industry is that eBooks will lose perceived value.  If customers start thinking of eBooks as somehow inherently cheaper that printed books, then printed Book sales will suffer and publishers would be forced to rely on sales of the eBooks, which means being subject to Amazon and Barnes & Noble even more than they are now.  This is the same sort of reasoning that brought on the behind-the-scenes deal with Apple to fix prices of eBooks around the time the iBooks store opened up.

I would say that this is going to go poorly for Penguin.  While their need to react is understandable given that they feel wronged, the targeting was off a bit.  Instead of attacking Amazon directly, they have gone after their own readers.  Yes, the Amazon deal with OverDrive increases the incentive to purchase a Kindle, but going after libraries doesn’t do a lot to make you look better to a customer base that loves to read.  The Kindle is unlikely to be pushed out of the #1 slot in eBook Readers any time soon, even if all the major publishers pulled out of the library system in the same way.  It’s difficult to understand what Penguin is still hoping to accomplish here.

Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: How, What, and Why

Assuming you have both a Kindle and an active Amazon Prime membership, you now get to make use of Amazon’s latest eBook related service, the Amazon Prime Kindle Owners’ Lending Library!  Aside from having a rather unwieldy name attached to it, this will be a good thing for those who get to take advantage of it.  Of course, aside from being occasionally lucky it might be hard to figure out how to take advantage right off the bat.  We’ll start there.

First off, it is helpful to be aware that you need to do your borrowing from the Kindle itself.  While you might find books that have borrowing enabled while browsing the Kindle Store on another device, in which case you will see “Prime Members: $0.00 (read for free)”, you cannot begin the borrowing until you pull it up on your eReader. If your Kindle software is up to date, the Kindle Storefront will now have a “Kindle Owners’ Lending Library” category to choose when you click on “See all…”.  Look around from there and choose your book!

As far as what is currently available, none of the Big 6 publishing houses are currently taking part in this program.  They have cited concerns that offering something like this will devalue the eBook as a format in the minds of customers.  Strange reasoning, but not much we can do right now.  Among the 5,000+ titles that are available, though, expect to find selections in pretty much every category.  Keep an eye out for things like Vook Classics titles, which will work just fine but encompass titles that most people will get just as much out of when reading for free anyway.  You only get one rental per month under this program, so it’s worthwhile to use it wisely.

That one rental will strike many people as rather little to get for the $79/year Amazon Prime membership, making this an ineffective marketing tool on its own, but it will probably help drive sales of the new Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire eReaders among existing Prime customers.  Amazon is clearly convinced about this since they are once again putting their own money into getting a Kindle program off the ground.  Not all of the books being offered are in the Library by publisher agreement, it seems.  In cases when Amazon is able to grab eBooks through non-Agency Model relationships, they are simply buying at wholesale and then lending to customers, eliminating any publisher participation.  The jury is still out on how long this will last before somebody gets really upset about it.

Reading a book every couple weeks is not at all unreasonable for anybody, and Amazon has said on multiple occasions that their data shows that Kindle owners buy more books than most people.  We have to hope that translates into more books being read as well.  Perhaps the intention here is to keep people interested in continual consumption and draw in those who haven’t yet gotten too invested in their Kindle.  Regardless of the reasoning behind it, there’s no downside if you’re in a position to take advantage.  Enjoy your book.