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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Following in the footsteps of rival Barnes & Noble's (BKS) - Get Barnes & Noble, Inc. Report Nook, Amazon (AMZN) - Get, Inc. Report started allowing Kindle readers to share e-books Thursday.

Amazon, which initially said it would offer the service earlier this year, lets customers using the Kindle e-reader app on any platform lend books they've bought to friends for 14 days. The original buyer of the e-book will not be able to read it while it's being shared.

Borrowing is free for users, but only select books can be shared. "It is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending," Amazon said on its Web site.

Eligible books feature a "Lending: Enabled" note on its title detail page at

Tech blog


cites reports noting that some Avon, Hachette, Harlequin and Penguin book titles aren't available for Kindle sharing.

Amazon's move is the latest in an attempt to stay ahead in an

increasingly crowded market

, which some tech watchers say now includes

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(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

tablet-market leader, the iPad.

In November, Amazon rolled out a service that allows people to buy and send Kindle e-books as gifts, a feature that other e-readers don't yet offer.

Amazon shares were trading largely flat at $183.21 at midday Thursday.

--Written by Maggie Overfelt in New York.

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