Kindle users to get select books early

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos holds up the Kindle Fire HD reading device in two sizes during a press conference in September 2012.

Story highlights

  • Amazon program lets Kindle users download one book a month ahead of its release date
  • Every month the company picks four new titles from a variety of categories
  • Amazon Prime members can download their pick free; non-members pay $1.99 each
Bookworms eagerly awaiting the next title from their favorite author may have a new way to access those books early.
Amazon is launching a program that releases select books to Kindle readers a month before they go on sale to everyone else.
Called Kindle First, the program lets readers pick one of four books a month, chosen by Amazon editors from a variety of categories. This month there's a romance novel, some literary fiction, a mystery and an inspirational book based on a disco song. The books will be officially released everywhere in December.
Kindle First is free to Amazon Prime members, while other people will pay $1.99 a month for their book. Amazon will announce the book selections every month via e-mail. The books will work on any Kindle device or Kindle app on a third-party device, so Android and iOS users can get them as well.
For now, the program is only available in the United States.
Early access to books is yet another perk added to the Amazon Prime membership program, joining streaming shows and movies, thousands of free Kindle titles, and free two-day shipping. Amazon Prime is designed to lure customers into Amazon's vast ecosystem of content and physical goods.
The program is $79 a year, but it makes far more money on purchases members make, not their annual fees. If you can order a pair of shoelaces online without paying for shipping, why bother going to the store?
Granting early access to content can also be a weapon against illegal downloading. Pirating ebooks may not get as much attention as movies and music, but its just as easy to do. If something is available through an official service ahead of its release date, it makes it easier for consumers to pay for the product instead of turning to more illicit channels.
Some movie studios have already begun experimenting with making movies available online before they are released in theaters.
Researchers at the Mercatus Center are studying data for legal and illegal downloads to see if there's a connection between making content available early and a decrease in pirating, according to Ars Technica.