Novel Twist on Old Idea Makes E-book Lending Easier
When Amazon first launched its Kindle e-reader, users thrilled at the many benefits of the portable, lightweight book repository, but many lamented the inability to share the electronic books they now owned on the device.
Several months later, Barnes and Noble introduced its Nook e-reader device. Shedding the QWERTY keyboard that was on the Kindle, the Nook had a sleek, polished front, a colored screen, and one other addition — it allowed its users to share their e-books with other Nook users, using the Barnes and Noble LendMe feature. Amazon caught up soon enough, launching a lending ability for its Kindle on Dec. 30, 2010.
Meanwhile, with the number of e-book swapping applications that have emerged, e-book readers can connect and share their libraries with friends and strangers and make lists of books they want to read and lend. It looks like e-book swapping is here to stay.
Even so, e-book lending with the two big e-readers – the Nook and Kindle – has its limitations. For one, publishers still control which e-books can be borrowed. (Finding out if a book is lendable is easy: On the Amazon page, scroll down and look for product information. “Lending Enabled” means that your book is lendable.) Also, each book you own can be lent out only once.
Furthermore, lending off the Kindle can be started only in the United States. That is, international users cannot initiate the lending process. And borrowers in other countries may or may not be able to access the book, depending on the publishing rights for the book for their country.
An advantage, though, is that e-book borrowers don’t need to have a Kindle or Nook. They can read their borrowed books through a Kindle or Nook application on their mobile device or computer.
The Nook is built to share. On the device, just pick an e-book, and choose the share function for a contact. After 14 days, the lending window expires.
Kindle users can lend their books through the Amazon website, by heading to the Amazon product page for the book, and clicking on the “Loan this book” link at the top of the page. Enter a borrower’s e-mail address, and the book is off.
On receiving an invite to borrow a book, a borrower has seven days to accept the request before it expires. Once they accept it, they have 14 days in which to read the book on their Kindle, or other mobile device with Kindle app installed.
At the end of two weeks, the e-book is automatically “returned” to the owner, who can access the book once again.
Since lending first began on the Nook, a series of applications have emerged that allow lending of e-books. Unsurprisingly, with years of lending practice, the first people to jump on the e-book lending bandwagon were libraries, through an application called OverDrive. (Using this, e-readers like the Nook and Sony e-reader can connect library members with the library’s collection of e-books, which can be checked out for seven to 21 days.)
Earlier this month, the book-lending company BookSwim came out with a new book-sharing platform called eBookFling, which lets e-reader users share books that they bought on their platforms. The eBookFling works on a system of points. When a user lists five lendable books on their account, they earn a point, which they can use to borrow a book. Lenders can also earn a point each time they successfully lend a book.
Another application, the Kindle Lending Club, connects book borrowers and lenders through Facebook, through an account on the application. Books on one person’s “To Borrow” list are matched up with someone else’s “Lend” list, and an e-mail invite from Amazon appears in the borrower’s inbox.
Though e-book sharing seems to have its limitations, e-book sharing is inviting anyone with a mobile device or an e-reader application into the fast-growing community of e-book enthusiasts .
And, any book lover who was afraid to lend out a favorite book for fear of never getting it back, can now share an e-book and rest assured it will find its way home.