Amazon today crippled the Kindle lending service, Lendle, by revoking the startup’s API access.
We covered Lendle last month, a service that enables Kindle users to lend books to other users they don’t personally know. The service makes use of the Kindle’s own legitimate lending feature, and simply facilitates lending for a greater network of people.
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Services like Lendle depend on Amazon’s API to facilitate the purchase and lending of books, and as such are at Amazon’s mercy as to whether their business should survive or die.
The move has caused substantial outrage from both existing customers and those who were considering using the service. As one Twitter user, Andrew Cohen, said, “Wow! Amazon just killed @lendleapp and my desire to own a Kindle.”
Other tweets indicate that the service’s users would never have bought as many books from Amazon had they not been using Lendle to try them out in the first place. Twitter user Matthew Ash commented, “It’s official, @amazon takes home the trophy for “dumbest business move of the day” for shutting down @lendleapp.”
I asked Jeff Croft, a Lendle co-founder, if they’d been able to make any progress in resolving the situation with Amazon. Amazon, unfortunately, has remained silent. Said Croft:
“The letter we got from Amazon comes from a “no-reply” e-mail address and offers no formal way to dispute the revocation, or ask for more clarity. We have sent a response to any relevant Amazon e-mail address we could, but as yet, have not received any response from them.
Our initial reaction was pure surprise. I work out of my home office just blocks from Amazon headquarters in Seattle, and am very involved in the tech community here in town. As such, I know many people at Amazon, and everything I’d heard was that most inside Amazon were big fans of Lendle—even up to higher-ranking managers.”
But Lendle fans shouldn’t fear–the service still has a future, with or without access to Amazon’s API.
“We intend to do everything in our power to continue to serve our amazing community. Part of that, of course, is doing whatever we can do get our API access back. Failing that, it’s still very possible for us to run a lending site without relying on Amazon’s APIs. It may take us a bit of time to rebuild, but one way or another, we’ll continue lending eBooks. This only strengthens our drive to bring the publishing industry into the 21st century, even if we have to drag them kicking and screaming.”
We wish Lendle the best of luck in getting back on their feet, with or without Amazon’s help.