What is the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library?

Amazon first announced the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library at the beginning of  November 2011. The library ties in closely with their Amazon Prime Membership which is really a “package deal” for delivering content – particularly streaming movies and video – to their new Kindle Fire customers.

Kindle Owners Lending Library & Amazon PrimeWhat are US Amazon Prime Members?

An Amazon Prime membership costs $79 for a year. Members are entitled to:

  • Unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows
  • Free Two-Day Shipping on items
  • A Kindle Book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library 

The focus of the Prime membership seems to be on the multimedia content for the Kindle Fire because members only get to borrow 12 Kindle books per year with their $79 membership.

More about the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

There are already more than 30,000 ebooks available for borrowing including over 100 current and former bestsellers.  These ebooks can only be borrowed by readers who are Kindle owners and have purchased a Prime Membership.

Since there are no due dates on the books borrowed I’m not sure how this is really any different than letting readers choose a free, popular ebook each month.

Amazon Prime BadgeWhen readers browse the Kindle store from their Kindle they will be able to identify ebooks that are part of the Kindle Owners Lending Library by a small “Prime Badge” alongside the item in search results.

What Does This Mean for Authors?

Amazon has set up a new fund to compensate authors whose ebooks are borrowed from this library. Your Kindle books will not automatically be added into the Kindle Owners Lending Library. You need to choose to include your ebook using Amazon’s new KDP Select option which is now accessible from your KDP Bookshelf.

The fund ($500,000 for December) is split based on your share of the total of qualified borrows of all participating titles. For example, in December if the total number of qualified borrows is 100,000 and your book was borrowed 50 times, you will earn 0.05% or $250.

Looks attractive on the surface, however my advice is don’t jump in too quickly.  Adding your ebooks to the library requires entering an exclusivity agreement with Amazon so you won’t be able to sell those ebooks elsewhere.  As with entering any publishing agreement it is important that you understand exactly what you will be gaining and also what you are agreeing to give up! I have written more about the pros and cons of KDP Select over in another post..

What are your thoughts on the new Kindle Owners’ Lending Library? Please leave a comment below.

About the Author: Gary McLaren

Gary McLaren is the author of 'The Indie Author's Guide to Publishing Ebooks'. He also manages several web sites for professional writers including Publish Your Own Ebooks and Worldwide Freelance.


  1. As the exclusivity is for 90 days at a time, and as I only had two short stories for sale so far, I decided it would probably neither help nor hurt to throw them in. I don’t expect anything but a possible page view or two I wouldn’t have had before, so I’m not particularly invested. I’ll have at least two more stories up by the end of this month, and I’m deciding whether or not to enroll them for the same limited period.

  2. Thanks for this information. I was wondering whether this was a good deal and agree to hold off on switching to KDP Select right away. I’m not prepared to removed my books from other venues yet.

  3. I took the plunge and entered some of my books. As far as I can see, the only advantage to me, is I can easily offer each book free for 5 days each 90. This brings a short burst of extra exposure – a promotional tool.

    The drawback is, so many authors now take advantage, the market is flooded with free ebooks, making it is as difficult to get free promotions as it is to sell books in the first place.

    I’m not convinced it is good for authors.

  4. Meijers says:

    I can see the necessity of caution, but I find myself wondering whether it may not indeed be of interest from the angle of promotion.

    Short stories, a first published novel, it strikes me as an extra exposure annex distribution channel.

    But for more than that, no, I can’t see that unless your name as author is an established brand of bestsellers.

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