With two days left before the end of the year, Amazon finally delivered on their promise to enable ebook lending on the Kindle Store this morning. You won’t find it on every title, but if it’s available then you’ll see a prompt in two places:
1. At the top of the product page for books you’ve purchased:
2. Under the “Your Orders” list of books on the “Manage Your Kindle” section of the Kindle Store:
As of this morning, very few titles seem to have the feature enabled. It appears that all titles without DRM (see this post for details) have it enabled, but the feature is much rarer on DRM’ed titles.
You can tell whether a book is lendable before purchase by checking under the Product Details section, where there’s now a new category named “Lending.”
As for the feature, it’s pretty much as expected and in line with what Barnes & Noble offers on the Nook–the loan period is 14 days, during which time you can’t read the title, and you can only lend a title once. So yeah, it’s not restriction-free lending, but more of an optional loan-once coupon you can redeem on certain titles.
Only U.S. customers can initiate loans, says Amazon. If you live outside the U.S. and you receive a loaned book, your ability to accept it will depend on what geographical rights are available in your area.
Update: Here’s a little more information regarding how lending works on titles, taken from Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP) FAQs. Every book published through the DTP, meaning virtually every indie book, has lending enabled by default. However, on titles where the publisher is taking the 35% royalty rate–which is required on anything priced below $2.99, and optional on anything priced between $2.99 and $9.99–publishers can opt out of the feature. This means that not every DRM-free ebook will necessarily have lending enabled, especially after today. However, if lending was enabled when you bought the book, the feature can’t be taken away even after the publisher turns it off.
Amazon Kindle Lending [Amazon]