I recently finished a book called The Martian a debut novel by Andrew Weir and enjoyed it very much. In fact I told a number of people about it and many of them seemed interested.
Before e-books I would have considered lending my hard copy to any one of my friends who expressed interest. Alas as an e-book that I read on my Amazon Kindle Fire that did not seem possible. While it turned out that I was incorrect in that assumption (you can lend Kindle e-books with some major limitations), the lending of e-books has a long way to go – in my book.
To better illustrate my point here is what Amazon.com writes about the lending of e-books:
You can lend a Kindle book to another reader for up to 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Fire or Kindle device and can read the book after downloading a free Kindle reading app.
Note: A book can only be loaned one time. Magazines and newspapers are not currently available for lending.
Table of Contents
- Loan a Kindle Book from the Product Detail Page
- Loan a Kindle Book from Manage Your Content and Devices
- Borrow from a Friend
- Return a Loaned Book
Loan a Kindle Book from the Product Detail Page
You can loan eligible Kindle books from the product detail page of a book you purchased on Amazon.
During the loan period, you will not be able to read the book that you loaned.
To loan a Kindle book:
- Go to the Kindle Store from your computer, and then locate the title you’d
like to loan.
- On the product detail page, click Loan this book. You will be sent to
the Loan this book page.
- Enter the recipient’s e-mail address and an optional message.
Note: Be sure to send the Kindle book loan notification to your friend’s personal e-mail address and not their Send-to-Kindle e-mail address.
- Click Send now.
Easy right? NOT! 14 days is a relatively short time for some of us to read an entire book. And that the clock is ticking from the moment your lending recipient clicks on the book does not enhance the experience. You can lend a Kindle book to a non-Kindle user but the user has to download the free Kindle app – that’s ok and even smart as it will introduce the platform to non-users.
The practice that you can only lend the book one time is a bad one. Perhaps Amazon is worried that Kindle users might become their own lending libraries robbing Amazon of future revenue opportunities.
With all the technology that Amazon.com has at its disposal how could a reader be confused with a lending library? If I have a printed book I am able to lend it as many times as I would like – which is normally mitigated by the fact that people don’t necessarily return lent books from one another.
Why wouldn’t Amazon Kindle allow me the e-book ‘owner’ to lend the book as many times as I like? I feel that it’s acceptable practice (to me) if the e-book owner would then not be able to read the book (as is the case) until the person to whom the book was lent ‘returned’ the book. In this example then one copy moving around but at the e-book owner’s discretion to be lent as many times as desired. It also would follow that the owner of the e-book should have the option of pulling back the book at any time.
Overall I remain an Amazon.com aficionado but as time as passed the bloom is coming off of the rose and what’s left behind is not always so pretty.
Do you agree that lending e-books should be easier and better than it is today?
It should be but what’s in it for Amazon? That is the question they must be thinking. A book publisher couldn’t do anything, really, about you lending out your print edition or a used bookstore or library reselling it. But a digital product is different and for companies in this century, it appears that the first and only commandment is to make money. So….
For me, this is the thing that has always made me nervous about digital reading, news reporting, communications. The ability of the provider to control access to information should make anyone familiar with the first amendment very nervous.
Interesting point regarding 1st Amendment concerns Joe thanks for offering that. What Amazon is thinking is anybody’s guess. What they should be thinking is how consumers behave and how to improve the experience for users.
Really interesting post here, Mark, and I think it opens up an interesting contextual dilemma. Is digital content DIFFERENT in some way than analog content? It appears very much so. Without the traditional buffers, digital content (books and music in particular,) is left more vulnerable to piracy because of the ease and breadth of potential/random digital distribution. Back in the “old days,” you had to a.) MEET with someone then b.) hand them the buffer (the album, CD, book or VHS/DVD, then c.) wait for it to be returned – with no control over that process except maybe a few nagging phone calls – so you could either enjoy it again or disseminate it elsewhere. It’s likely that this process led to people buying more than one copy of their favorite content on more than one occasion. (I can attest.) Would it be better/different/weird/worse if Amazon tried to monetize your generosity? What if it charged you a nominal fee (49 or 99 cents or something) every time you clicked a “lend” button? Maybe it’s a model that works?
Great point Nader. I tend to look at things in terms of historical behavior and that might be something that contaminates my ability to see around this corner. To lend a book to someone (the same would be true for vinyl, CD/DVD etc.) has up until now been a completely free option to the individual (content) lender. I am certain that Amazon is absolutely concerned about lost revenue opportunities as Joe Berger points out. A lending fee – even if nominal would acknowledge the provider (and author/provider) but at the same time would aggravate traditionalists (at least when it comes to lending personal items) which in this case includes me.