Amazon to let Kindle users lend e-books

Amazon’s moved to improve the competitiveness of its Kindle e-reader by allowing users to lend their books to friends.

Like users of Barnes & Noble’s LendMe service for the Nook, Kindle users will be able to lend books to other users of the Kindle device or app, while losing access to it themselves.

Books can only be lent once, and loans will be limited to 14 days. In addition, says the company, not all e-books will be lendable. “This is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending,” says Amazon.

It doesn’t say which publishers are prepared to grant the rights, and is presumably still in negotiation with rights holders on the issue.

At the same time, the company has announced that it’s making Kindle newspapers and magazines readable on its free Kindle apps. This means that device owners can read Kindle periodicals even if they don’t have their Kindle with them – or if they don’t own one, which could be a handy little marketing tool for the company.

Over the next few weeks, a number of newspapers and magazines – Amazon hasn’t said which – will become available through the Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The company says it will add the functionality to Kindle for Android and its other apps later on.

“Our vision is Buy Once, Read Everywhere, and we’re excited to make this possible for Kindle periodicals in the same way that it works now for Kindle books,” the company says.

But the lending is restricted to individuals: Amazon still doesn’t allow users to access e-books from digital libraries, as do the Nook and Sony Reader.