The answer, to be sure, is why should Amazon encourage you to get loaner books for free when it's making enough money off e-book sales to offset the loss it takes on Kindles themselves (though, I read that the margin on Kindles may be improving)? From a business standpoint, that doesn't make much sense. Especially when market share is in your favor without offering support for the file formats libraries prefer.
That said, I have a solution that I hope people smarter than me are already considering.
It would look like this:
- Amazon and your local public library enter a contract where Amazon delivers content, likely segments of books at a time, for free to library members. The library would have to do zero "shelf stocking" here... library members get instant access to any book Amazon sells for Kindle.
- Halfway through your free book, you hit an optional pay wall that would basically say "If you're enjoying this, why not buy it and have it forever. We normally sell this book for $9.99. We'll let you have it now for $7.99."
- If you choose to buy, though, the library in your hometown gets $2 of the purchase price.
With local and national government spending cuts all but guaranteed in coming months, public libraries are going to be facing shortfalls. I suggest a model like this be tested.
Because as much as I like to read, it's tough for me to turn down a cheap good book that, if I purchase, helps give a little bit of funding to my local library to help as they plan community programs.