In the final weeks of 2010 Amazon made good on two announcements made some months ago. You can now lend Kindle titles and Kindle for Android is the first Kindle app to receive the update that enables users to buy and read newspapers and magazines.
If you are a Kindle customer you can now be able to share titles you have purchased with any other Kindle user - including those using the free Kindle apps. As we reported in October (Amazon to allow Kindle lending) this move brings Kindle into line with Barnes & Noble's Nook which already has this feature. However it is such a restricted facility that it might well backfire.
While a title is on loan the lender has no access to it and this seems fair enough .... but you can only loan a title once and only for 14 days - which seems far too short. There are also geographical restrictions - lending can only be initiated by customers in the U.S and recipients in some countries won't be allowed access to some titles - and currently sharing can only be administered via the Amazon website.
In addition the facility is controlled by the publisher who can opt to enable or disable sharing. As you can guess most publishers see no advantage in letting users share a book with another user and so lose a potential sale. As a result you have to look quite hard to find a Kindle book that you can use to even just test the facility!
How long will it take publishers to realise that to make ebooks successful the have to match the advantages of a paper book or reduce the price to compensate for the restriction?
October's announcement about extending the "Buy Once, Read Everywhere" Kindle ability to newspapers and magazines suggested that the iOS apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch would be the first to be released but in the event the Android app has jumped the queue. What this signifies is debatable - it could be that Amazon sees Android as a more important platform to work with rather than the competing iOS devices or it might just be that Android development is easier.
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