If you're an Amazon Prime member and if you own a Kindle, you can borrow books "free" – one book per month, anyway. You do this through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. You can go to the Library from your Kindle Fire directly from the Fire bookstore; if you have an older Kindle, you go to the Kindle Store and click on "See all categories…"If you're on your computer and you find a book on the Amazon website, it'll tell you whether or not it can be borrowed from the library.
It's up to authors whether or not to make their books available for borrowing. Only book with US rights (currently) and whose eBook editions are exclusively available on Kindle are eligible. So why would you want to do this if you're an author? I bet you weren't even going to ask.
But here are the reasons:
- Authors like to be read.
- Authors actually get paid when their books are borrowed even though the customers aren't paying (except by buying a Kindle and signing up for Prime).
Amazon has an ingenious system for paying authors. Each month they put $500,000 into a pool (this month they've added $200,000 more). The pool is divided between authors in proportion to the number of times each author's titles are downloaded from Amazon. So authors have an incentive not only to make their books available to the library but also to promote the fact that their books can be borrowed there.
And guess what. Two books by me are available in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. One is hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble, a real murder mystery featuring an entrepreneur, a hacker, VCs, bankers and diverse other suspicious characters and informed by my stint as a CEO of a company which went public during the bubble – all fiction, of course. The other is my very much shorter The Interpreter's Tale set in Barcelona, wandering in and out of Gaudi architecture, and peopled with pickpockets, terrorists, separatists, and, of course, a hacker. This story used to be an Amazon Short before that category became part of Kindle.
hackoff.com is a Finalist for the Lulu Blooker Award (didn't win, though)
The World Economic Forum at Davos Continued (contains an extract set in Davos, of course)