A Kindle Lending Club has been launched in beta to let Kindle users lend and borrow e-books. But given the restrictions placed on lending is it going to work?
UPDATE: Having had to change its name at Amzon's request in February 2011, the new name and website are BookLending.com
Amazon enabled its lending option for Kindle at the end of December and one immediate response was the formation of a Facebook Group as a way for people to find others who were willing to share their e-books.
But as interest in the group exploded, its founder Catherine MacDonald realized that Facebook just didn't offer the scalability needed for such an undertaking and so in less than a fortnight she has set up a dedicated website, the Kindle Lending Club to match lenders and borrowers.
The Facebook group proved that there was popular demand for an e-book loan scheme but can it possibly work?
The restrictions Amazon has placed on Kindle lending, in order to satisfy publishers, is that a title can only be loaned once and for 14 days. Currently books can only be loaned by US users and where they can be lent depends on both title and territory. Add to this the fact that not many publishers enable lending at all and you can see that the odds are stacked against sucess.
Browsing the Borrow requests there are duplicates in the list - possibly indicating that awareness of a title fosters interest and this may ensure the long term success of the site. If would-be borrowers realise they face a long wait for a loan copy they may instead click the Buy on Amazon button, thereby generating a tiny amount of income for the website which is an Amazon affiliate.
And while the club's assurance is that lending a book is absolutely risk free is incontrovertible - your rights to read the book revert to you after 14 days - it may be that your title will be borrowed by a hacker who will overcome the digital rights management see Kindle DRM removal made easy.
What this venture does prove is that ebook users are desperate to get back to the world that they once understood - where when you bought a book it was yours to do what you wanted with be it lend, sell or burn...
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