In what Amazon is surely counting as a major win on its behalf, J.K. Rowling's uber-popular 'Harry Potter' series is now available in the Kindle library as part of their Amazon Prime service. That means subscribers can borrow the books, one at a time, for an annual subscription rate.
If you want to buy the digital version of Rowling's books, however, you will need to visit her web site, Pottermore.
The fact that Amazon managed to secure the rights to make Rowling's books available for some readers is fairly astonishing, especially given the tight controls Rowling has placed on them so far. Although she is now worth an estimated $1 billion Rowling has expressed a serious desire to keep the 'Potter' books as secure as possible, thereby securing as much of the profits as she possibly can.
Nothing wrong with that. They are her works and she can do as she pleases with them.
I am more interested in this lending program at Amazon. It seems to me, given that I just wrote about libraries buying eBooks in order to then lend them to customers, that Amazon is in essence becoming the world's largest library. Sure there is an annual fee subscribers must pay, but every citizen who owns property pays for the use of public libraries via their taxes, whether they use the library or not.
Does this mean private libraries might some day replace the public libraries many of us have come to love and adore? Not likely. Amazon is hardly able to provide the wealth of different services currently available at the local library, not including the personnel who work there and act as repositories of a wealth of information.
It is worth noting however, that as future generations become more used to the availability of digitized information they may find themselves less inclined to leave their home to get what they need. Research, reference material; video, audio and now eBooks are all being made available on a more or less "free" basis via the Internet. This is doubtlessly going to have at least some impact on library attendance and use. Of course, librarians are nothing if not creative and I could easily imagine a day when they focus more on the "real" and less on the digital as a way of being a unique commodity.
What does this mean for writers? Not much. I've just had libraries on the brain lately.