100 million ebooks downloaded from Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

Amazon has done the unthinkable…again.  The company announced today that over 100 million ebooks have been either borrowed or purchased from their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

We remember way back when Amazon launched the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library ten months ago how it only had 5,400 titles in it.  Now the library contains over 180,000 ebooks.  That means the company has added over 17,000 ebooks a month or 580 ebooks a day since it launched the library.

And don’t expect to buy those ebooks for your Nook or iPad either.  Over 180,000 ebooks in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library are exclusive to the Kindle.  The titles are mostly from independent authors or small publishing houses that have decided to participate in Amazon’s KDP Select program designed for self-publishing.

It’s interesting that Amazon said that the Kindle-exclusive ebooks were “purchased, downloaded or borrowed” more than 100 million times through the library.  It’s unclear what the difference between “borrowed” and “downloaded” is but “purchased” is pretty easy to understand.  Amazon continues to prove that loaning out ebook titles for free can be a powerful sales and marketing tool.

The most amazing piece from the announcement is that the 100 million downloads were all from Kindle-exclusive ebooks.  If Amazon continues to have such success with their exclusive titles it could create a very unusual market for ebooks.  Right now it’s mostly self-published ebook authors that are exclusive, but one can easily imagine how the next “Hunger Games” or “Game of Thrones” series of ebooks could end up being exclusive to Amazon.

Of course, Amazon would love it if this ever happened but the consumer (and libraries) would definitely suffer.  Right now readers have to choose their ereader based on who they want to buy their ebooks from.  If the trend of exclusive ebooks continues consumers will be forced to buy a certain ereader if they want to read exclusive titles.

Just imagine if you wanted to read “Twilight” on your new Nook or iPad and you found out that it is only available on the Kindle.  You’d be pretty upset, but chances are you’d end up buying a Kindle.  Of course that’s exactly what Amazon is hoping for and they’re using their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library as the ultimate promotional tool for authors to make it happen.

Book publishers should try to learn from Amazon’s lending success.  Right now only two of the big six publishers are offering their ebooks at public libraries.  If the publishers suddenly decided to leverage libraries like Amazon it could create a massive increase in sales.  This would also keep more control in the publishers’ hands instead of Amazon’s.  Of course, libraries (and their patrons) would really benefit too.

Amazon is a ruthless competitor that knows that libraries are a powerful way to promote ebooks.  If only the book publishers could wake up and realize that too.