* Investment “significant” in J.K. Rowling license-CEO
* Move may spur more Kindle usage, Prime memberships-analyst
By Alistair Barr
SAN FRANCISCO, May 10 (Reuters) - Owners of Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle e-readers and tablets will be able to borrow Harry Potter e-books in a move designed to encourage more people to use the devices and sign up for the company’s Prime service.
Amazon, the world’s largest Internet retailer, said on Thursday it bought an exclusive license from author J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore e-book business to make all seven Harry Potter e-books available to borrow through the Kindle platform.
The program begins June 19 and includes Potter e-books in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
Amazon did not say how much it paid for the license, but Chief Executive Jeff Bezos suggested the deal was part of its plans to spend heavily to promote Kindle devices and its Prime service. Prime offers free two-day shipping and unlimited video streaming for $79 a year in the United States.
“This is the kind of significant investment in the Kindle ecosystem that we’ll continue to make on behalf of Kindle owners,” Bezos said in a statement.
Through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, e-books can be borrowed as frequently as once a month. Amazon said the library has more than 145,000 e-books to borrow for free. Kindle owners have to have a Prime membership to access the Lending Library.
“Sales numbers for this series are off the charts, so it’s probably a smart investment,” said R.J. Hottovy, an equity analyst at Morningstar. “This could drive higher e-book readership, more adoption of the Kindle digital platform and more Prime memberships.”
Amazon’s stock rose about 2.7 percent to $225.67 shortly after midday, bringing this year’s gains to 29 percent.