May 10, 2012 at 1:03 PM ET
Amazon announced Thursday that it would offer all seven of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books in its Amazon Prime Lending Library, which means all Kindle owners who are also Prime members can borrow a new Potter book every month for free, with no due dates or late fees. (This is especially good when you get to those extra-long later volumes.)
But I did say Kindle owners. That's to differentiate from those people who use the Kindle app on an iPhone or iPad, and also have a $79-per-year Amazon Prime membership. Those people can't get Lending Library content at the moment.
The benefit, then, lies with Kindle owners, of which there are many millions. Having free access to the complete Potter library in digital form — without paying $8 to $10 a piece — is truly some sweet icing on a cake that already includes 145,000 other books, and free streaming of 17,000 movies and TV episodes (the bulk of which, I am compelled to point out, is lacking in awesomeness).
Offering books free with subscription is also a way for Amazon and others to fight e-book piracy before it becomes rampant. Just like music and movies before it, it won't be long before regular average non-hackers who want to cut down on the high expense of e-books start downloading all manner of literature from the torrents, without paying authors their due royalties.
The Potter deal starts June 19, so get those Kindles ready.