The Authors Guild and Amazon have butted heads over the Kindle in the past, and now it's happening again over the new Kindle Lending Library. As we reported earlier in the month, those who own Kindle hardware and are current subscribers to Amazon Prime can download one free ebook every month which gets replaced on your device when you borrow another book from the Library. Despite the fact that Amazon pays publishers the same price it would pay if someone bought the book outright, the Authors Guild believes this is a gross misuse of Amazon's power and that Amazon is acting without the consent of most major and minor publishing houses.
If the publishers (and by proxy, the authors) are getting paid, what's the issue? The Authors Guild is taking exception to Amazon reportedly asking publishers to participate, getting denied, and then going ahead with the program anyway. Amazon believes that as long as publishers are getting paid, it is fulfilling its end of the contract. There's also the fact that the publishers want to keep control over how their products are priced — selling ebooks will become more difficult if consumers start seeing their perceived monetary value shrink. This conflict is similar to how publishers reacted when Amazon initially capped Kindle ebook prices at $9.99, even though Amazon paid publishers the wholesale price. Unfortunately, we wouldn't be surprised if publishers revolt over the Kindle Lending Library, as well.