In a move that might drive more e-book-only tablet users to Amazon (opposed to iBooks or elsewhere), Amazon has announced a new book borrowing service called “Kindle Lending Library”.  The move is said to encourage Prime subscriptions, which are required for the service, but could be part of Amazon’s larger strategy as the $199 Kindle Fire prepares to enter the tablet market. Either way,

The service will allow users to borrow from a selection of approximately 5,000 books (up to one a month) that have been enabled for lending by the publisher. You’ll be able to return the book at any time without due dates, and bookmarks and highlights will be saved in the event you borrow or purchase the book in the future. Included in the available content will be 100 current and previous New York Times bestsellers.

Not so fast if you’re hoping to borrow books on your non-Kindle tablet, however. The service will only be made available to owners of an eligible Kindle device that are also Amazon Prime subscribers. A Prime membership is currently going for $79 per year, a pricey ask for just the book borrowing service if you’re not planning on taking advantage of the 10,000 movies and tv shows, and free two-day shipping available to Prime users. The good news is the $199 Kindle Fire will come bundled with one free month of Prime.

It appears Amazon hasn’t entirely convinced publishers of the long-term benefits of the service, as they note in the press release they are actually ” purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader” to provide a “no-risk trial” for publishers: expand full story