Kindle e-reader owners can now lend digital copies of their favourite e-titles to fellow book worms after Amazon has rolled out new functionality in a bid to make reading more sociable.
While Amazon has previously hinted that it wanted a sharing and sociable side to the Kindle, users of Amazon.com have finally got the ability to lend books, according to T3.
People who have purchased or own Kindle e-books can share them with friends even if they do not own a Kindle e-reader as the e-books can be read on any Kindle app, which is available on PC, Mac, BlackBerry, Android, iPhone and iPad.
All this might sound wonderful in principle but currently the service is slightly restricted and friends will have to be speedy readers as they reportedly only have 14 days to read a book before the loan period ends.
Furthermore, T3 reported that only a limited selection of titles can be loaned out because publishers can opt out of the scheme. Books eligible for the scheme reportedly have a ‘Lending Enabled' tag in the product details.
Book worms can apparently only loan books once every 2 weeks and the lender cannot read that particular title while it is on loan. The service is also only available for Amazon.com but will probably hit the UK later this year.
A Kindle spokesperson reportedly said: "At this time, Kindle book lending can only be initiated by customers residing in the United States. If a loan is initiated to a customer outside the United States, the borrower may not be able to accept the loan if the title is not available in their country due to publisher geographical rights."
However, perhaps one of the joys of lending e-books will be that your book worm friend will not ‘forget' to return them and leave them languishing on a bookshelf, or give a favourite title back dog-eared with coffee stains.
It seems the publishing industry is keen to embrace e-book sharing before illegal book lending becomes a real problem- much like illegal downloads have become the scourge of the music industry.
While Amazon has never really revealed how many Kindles it has sold, it announced just before Christmas (when its e-readers were all sold out) that the third generation of the Kindle is ‘the bestselling product in Amazon's history' beating sales of the final Harry Potter book.
In a bid to dismiss reports that tablets are eroding e-reader sales, Bezos said: "We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions."
He added that people: "report preferring Kindle for reading because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life, and has the advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye-strain, doesn't interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime, and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration especially for vacation reading. Kindle's $139 price point is a key factor -- it's low enough that people don't have to choose."
Amazon also trumpeted that on its busiest shopping day, 29 November, customers ordered a staggering 13.7m items across the globe- a record-breaking 158 items every second.
It said on Christmas Day people bought more Kindle books and downloaded more Read Everywhere apps than ever before. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' was the most purchased Kindle book on Christmas day and the most gifted e-book too.