The Lending Library, offered only in the U.S. and for free to Amazon Prime members, lets readers download one title each month—with no due date. While public and school library patrons must sometimes wait for popular titles to become available, Amazon is quick to point out that under the deal “there are no limits on how many people can simultaneously borrow the same title—so readers never have to wait in line for the book they want,” reads the release.
Pottermore’s CEO Charlie Redmayne told paidContent that the deal with Amazon will actually drive sales of the books, even though readers can download titles for free. Amazon’s own data showed that readers who borrowed the first book of Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” (Scholastic) series through the Kindle Lending Library ended up purchasing the second book rather than wait a month to check out the third book in the series.
“It’s a commercial deal that makes sense even with a level of cannibalization of my sales,” says Redmayne in an interview with paidContent. “But I believe it will actually drive greater sales.”
With more than 67 percent of libraries now offering ebooks—up 12 percent from two years ago—school and public libraries are now paying close attention to the shifting terrain around digital media. Many have watched publishers place caps on library ebook lending and have experienced sticker shock as the price of ebooks soar.
Amazon’s deal with Pottermore, Rowling’s online home for the world of Harry Potter, is likely to benefit the etailer with increased Kindle sales, as well as draw new annual subscriptions to its $79 Amazon Prime membership, a program that offers unlimited fast shipping. The Kindle Lending Library, with more than 145,000 titles, including “The Hunger Games” series, Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, and even the Kaplan Portable SAT study guide, is currently available only to Amazon Prime members.
Readers who borrow through the Lending Library can also save notes, highlight, and bookmark their books, which will reappear if they later purchase the title or check it out again.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have reached this agreement with Pottermore,” says Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO in a statement. “This is the kind of significant investment in the Kindle ecosystem that we’ll continue to make on behalf of Kindle owners.”