Source Code at Amazon Reveals “Prime eBooks”, Possible New eBook Rental Service

Prime eBooks

A crafty code sleuth over at MobileRead uncovered one of Amazon’s secrets while investigating source code trying find a picture of the new Kindle Tablet that everyone is expecting Amazon to announce at a press conference they scheduled on September 28th.

I did some investigating of my own and it does indeed appear as if Amazon is getting set to introduce something called Prime eBooks, assumingly an ebook rental type of service, like NetFlix for ebooks, as part of their Amazon Prime subscription package. Plus this corroborates a recent rumor that has been going around.

View the source code on the Manage Your Kindle page and you’ll find references to prime ebooks. The most notable mention is where it says “PRIME_EBOOKS_COMPATIBLE”, like the picture above shows.

There are other examples in the code’s comments too: “this is a currently checked out prime or library ebook” and “check whether the item is an active loan (currently prime or library)”.

There’s this too: prime_active_delete = “Are you sure you want to permanently delete this loan? Doing so will return the loan and remove it from your account.”

That’s not referring to library ebooks because there is a second one for those: library_active_delete = “Are you sure you want to permanently delete this library loan? Doing so will permanently remove it from your account and return it to the library.”

The code doesn’t lie. Prime ebooks are on the way. There’s no way the coders at Amazon would add something that isn’t yet certain to happen. They probably just added it when they did all the updates to add Kindle library lending. I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets announced on Wednesday too.

By the way, the poster at MobileRead mentions uncovering what could be info about the Kindle Tablet, but that is a dead end. The term “kindle-video-slate” means nothing about the Kindle tablet. It is a common CSS style Amazon uses for Kindle videos on their site. Go to any Kindle page and view the source for the video and you’ll see what I mean.

3 Responses to “Source Code at Amazon Reveals “Prime eBooks”, Possible New eBook Rental Service”

  1. So do you care to speculate how this service might work.

    Also, I wonder what impact this might have on piracy. On the one hand, it seems it will contribute to it because presumably people will be checking-out and checking-in books rapidly, which means there will be some people removing the DRM from their books every time they check out a book, and distributing them via torrent sites.

    On the other hand, if somebody is paying for an annual service and can read whatever they like, there is far less incentive for them to bother looking for pirated books. Plus, Amazon will tie the experience to social networking etc., and consumers will be able to sync books across multiple devices, so there are additional benefits that would not be otherwise available with pirated books.

    Overall, I think it is smart move for the industry as whole.

    • My guess is that there will be a monthly/annual subscription fee and there will be a set number of books we can have out at a time, and then you have to return an ebook to get another. I’m guessing the main negative with the service will be that there won’t be many newer titles or really popular ones. Kind of the same thing with Netflix. I guarantee there will be a limit to how many returns/checkouts an account can have per week to combat piracy. I’ve heard library ebooks have the same deal if you try to return to many of them in a short amount of time.

  2. I think this goes directly to the rumors that Amazon will have a netflix style pool of ebooks available to prime members gratis.
    Will be interesting to see what they put in there.
    Already a lot of classic books available for free as Amazon Kindle books.
    I hope they don’t remove them and add them to a group that only Prime members can access for ‘free’.