Just days after Amazon launched the ability to “lend” Kindle e-books to other users, the first “Kindle Lending Club” is already developing a strong userbase of people looking to swap e-books with others.
The club, set up as a Facebook page, has been “Liked” by 770 people at the time of writing and the page’s Discussions tab is busy with people requesting books offering up lists of the books they have available to lend to others. All that’s required for a user to lend a book to someone else is that person’s email address. Amazon’s lending period lasts 14 days, and during that period the lender will be unable to access the book, with rights restored to the purchaser once the two weeks are up.
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Whether Amazon anticipated users organising themselves into a lending club or not, we’re not sure but it’s likely to result in many lost sales. After all, most books can be comfortably read in 14 days. If all you need to do to get hold of Kindle books is to request a loan from a stranger online, how many will you actually bother to buy?
At present, Kindle book lending is only available in the US and the number of people offering to lend books compared to the total number of books available is low. However, can Amazon really do anything to stop this growing?
Offering a lending feature is a DRM-controlled goodwill gesture to paper books, where lending is impossible to restrict. Lending is currently only possible for titles where rightsholders have allowed it. If organised lending continues to increase, will those publishers that have taken a chance on letting their titles be borrowed get cold feet, killing the feature off entirely?
The many users currently happily sharing their favourite books with others will no doubt be praying that’s a negative.