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Amazon brings controversial e-lending scheme to UK

Amazon is to launch its controversial Kindle Owners' Lending Library in the UK from the end of October, offering Kindle-owning Amazon Prime customers access to more than 200,000 e-books for free. It has also announced that its latest e-reader, the Paperwhite, will be available for UK customers later this month.

The Lending Library allows Kindle users to download and read for free one title per month, but initially proved controversial in the US where Amazon launched the offer around e-books without seeking publishers' permission. Titles featured in the UK version include self-published books such as As If By Magic by Kerry Wilkinson, and Stephen Leather's The Basement, along with publisher hits such as Icon's The Etymologicon and Justin Cartwright's Other People's Money, published by Bloomsbury. The seven Harry Potter books are also included, as they are in the US.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors can include their books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library through KDP Select. In the US authors earn as much as $2.29 per borrow from Amazon's KDP Select Fund, now put at $700,000.

It was not immediately clear if traditional publishers in the UK had the choice to opt in or out. In the US, where the service launched a year ago, Amazon included books without separate publisher or author agreements, paying the wholesale price each time a book was 'borrowed'. In the US, despite the launch furore, it now has 180,000 e-books in the offer.

UK publishers with e-books listed could not be reached for comment.

The announcements come on the eve of the launch of Barnes & Noble's Nook devices in stores and the roll-out of its UK website. Amazon said the Lending Library would also be launched in France and Germany, though did not specify a date.

Kindle Paperwhite comes in at £109 for the basic version, with the 3G wireless version priced at £169, and ships on 25th October.