Amazon has published details about a new feature that will allow Kindle users to lend ebooks once for a period of 14 days, something that one of its competitors, the Nook, offered from day one.
The big downside is that only selected ebooks can be loaned and only once per fortnight; publishers are free to opt in or out of the scheme and it is understandable that not many have warmed up to the idea.
The lender won't be able to read the ebook once it is loaned to someone else and the borrower doesn't need to have a Kindle device to access it; Kindle applications for Mac, PC or mobile platforms can be used.
For now, the lending feature can only be initiated by a customer residing in the United States, with no limits as to the geographic location of the borrower although this will depend on whether the title is available in his country due to publisher geographic rights.
It is expected to be rolled out to other territories within the forthcoming months and doesn't apparently come with any restrictions when it comes to the number of times you can loan an ebook to someone.
Initiating a lending process can apparently only be done through a computer, not directly from the Kindle device itself. From Amazon's screenshots, the process is only a few steps long.
More details can be found on Amazon's help page here; it would be interesting to find out whether it can start virtual global ebook clubs.