The Kindle… And Amazon’s Virtual Lending Library to Come

by Dale Wright

Out of all the gadgets I own, I have to say the Kindle is one of my favourites. Taking a Kindle on holiday was a real pleasure compared to taking my usual bundle of three or four books, and it really helps to travel light if you’re on a budget airline.

When I got to my sunny holiday destination, I found that the Kindle was perfect for reading in the sun – light enough to hold for a long period of time, and the fantastic e-ink screen meant that I didn’t have to squint and shield my eyes to read comfortably. It’s also nowhere near as heavy as my iPad, and more comfortable to read on than an iPhone. What’s more rather than dog-earing my pages and getting my books scuffed, I’m protected with my Kindle case.

In fact, the only thing I don’t like about the Kindle is the price of some of the books. I refuse to pay more than a few pounds for a Kindle book, simply because the second hand paperbacks are sometimes so much cheaper. Just the other day I spent £21 on a big paperback rather than £18 on the file. Makes sense really – I can always sell the paperback later if I want to!

Despite digital book sales now representing a respectable 6% of the UK book market, there
must be quite a few people who, like me, don’t pay more than a certain amount for an e-book. Amazon have announced a new tactic to get us to read even more on our Kindles: they will be opening a virtual lending library for Kindle in the US soon, and it will make its way across to us in the UK sometime afterwards. In return for an annual fee for their Amazon Prime service, you’ll be able to borrow a book in the same way you rent a movie from Netflix or iTunes. Rental periods could range from a month to a year.

Amazon already provide a rental service for college textbooks on Kindle, so this could be the next logical step. Would you rent a book from Amazon, or are you worried that digital libraries will kill off real libraries?