Amazon will end the Kindle Lending Library program next week

The free borrowing program has been replaced by the $10-per-month Prime Reading, because, of course, Amazon doesn't want us to have anything for free.

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Amazon’s Lending Library for its Kindle devices will shut down on January 4, 2021, according to GoodEReader. The Amazon staple has all but been replaced by the beefier Prime Reading program in recent years, so the Lending Library’s death knell isn’t too surprising. As Amazon has been phasing out Lending Library webpages in recent months, this decision seems to have been a long time coming.

The Lending Library launched in 2011 and provided Kindle users with a curated collection of eBooks that could be borrowed — one at a time — at no cost. As its name suggests, the program was very similar to a public library, except, of course, that an enormous corporation owned the books.

As the Kindle grew increasingly more popular in the last decade, though, Amazon realized it could capitalize upon the all-you-can-read idea by slapping a monthly fee on it. And thus the free library for all Kindle owners is no more.

Say hello to Prime Reading — Kindle owners can still borrow unlimited books from Amazon’s collection — if they’re Prime members, that is. Prime Reading, which offers essentially the same service, is packaged in Amazon’s standard Prime membership. But non-members will need to pay $10 per month to access Prime Reading.

Prime Reading is more lenient than the Lending Library ever was — subscribers can borrow up to eight titles across eBooks and audiobooks each month. However, Prime Reading’s book collection numbers in the thousands, whereas the Lending Library has amassed more than a million titles.

Grab a library card instead — The death of the Lending Library follows Amazon’s general business strategy to a T: either you’re all-in or you’re left out.

While anyone with an internet connection can access and utilize Amazon’s basic shopping services, its most impressive perks are reserved for Prime members. Do you want access to the company’s hottest deals of the year? You’ll have to buy a Prime membership. Or maybe you want to join your friends’ virtual movie screening — you’ll need a $119-per-year Prime membership for that, too.

The good news: many library systems in the U.S. have begun offering their own impressive eBook lending systems — and you don’t need anything other than a library card to get started. And this way you can borrow books without contributing to Jeff Bezos’ ludicrous wealth. If you really want to take full advantage of library eBook programs, e-reader alternatives like the Kobo Libra can connect directly to your library’s database.