Loaning e-books – what’s you’re take?

kindle3In the last few years we’ve all seen many changes in the book biz. Most of us group up turning paper pages and curling up with a good book. The rise of the e-books has changed some things about the reading experience, but there’s one thing it hasn’t changed… We can still loan a book to friend. At least if we both have the same e-reader.

I’m always love telling people who haven’t discovered this on their own. There is nothing like being able to pass a good book on to someone who wouldn’t have found it any other way.

But I know many authors might not be as excited by this. Years ago, I heard authors complain about second-hand book-selling. Loans are clearly different–no money changes hands–but it I’ve seen online groups organize to loan books among strangers. That’s obviously about saving money, just as shopping at second-hand books stores (something I did a lot when I was a struggling student).

In case you’re not familiar with how Kindle lending works, you have to log into your Kindle account and select the book to loan to a specific email address. Amazon, emails the person you’re lending to and gives them a link to send the book to their Kindle (or Kindle app). While the borrow has the book, the lender can’t open the book on their own Kindle (just like they wouldn’t be able to read a physical book while it was loaned to a friend). When the borrower is through with the book, it is removed from their account and unlocked on the lenders account.

Cool? Or no big deal? Big brother-ish? Or just plain wrong? You decide.

Take the appropriate poll below.



CAVEAT: this poll is not scientific and carefully worded, but hey,  it is anonymous. Hope you voted!

And I’d love to hear your thoughts, so let’s discuss!

10 thoughts on “Loaning e-books – what’s you’re take?

  1. As Eric Flint noted over ten years ago, smart sci-fi authors for years have recognized libraries and second-hand shops as the way many new readers get hooked on sci-fi. Everyone I know has had this happen at least once: they borrow a book from the library or a friend, love it, go out and buy their own copy and at least one more book (often several) from that author. I have bought at least two copies of every one of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, and I got started on it when my uncle loaned me the Last Herald Mage trilogy. Where in that transaction did Ms Lackey lose money?

    Borrowing lets people who aren’t sure they want to buy check it out. It lets readers who love an author say “You have to check this out!” and their friend doesn’t need to respond, “Sounds awesome, but I’m not sure I want to spend $X on a new author right now.” If the friend can borrow the book and likes it, they buy more books by that author that the author never would have sold. If they borrow it and don’t like it – well that’s a sale the author wasn’t going to make anyway.

    This doesn’t take sales away – if people are going to buy a book, they won’t borrow rather than buy, they’ll just buy. If they aren’t going to buy, the author hasn’t lost anything and may gain a new fan.

  2. I wondered how kindle loan works. I haven’t been able to use it so far( overseas); so I can’t give an informed opinion.
    As for being big brother- truthfully if you use the Internet you will have to confront the reality that it does infringe on your privacy and more of your life is out there, so to speak. I’m not keen in Amazon knowing all that I read but I’m the one using the Kindle so…mixed feelings.
    But I do think loans ultimately help more than hurt an author esp if they have an extensive backlist.

    • You touch on a great point. I think we are all becoming much more comfortable with living life in public. Though I do think we should probably be thinking about this more as the technology grows. Not everything that can be done should be done. It is something we don’t consider often enough. But lending books – totally worth it. LOL.

    • Kindle / Amazon only allow lending of a book one time only. It’s not a policy I like. I’ve also had trouble opening my loaned book even though they say it was returned.

  3. I think the book borrowing system should work a lot like Apple’s TV/Movie rental setup. You download your rented book. From the moment you open it, you have a disclosed amount of time before the file auto-deletes. If you haven’t finished it, you can just recheck it out. Something with the logistics and power of a Netflix app might work so people can just download the software on their eReaders. Of course, something tells me this is all way harder than it sounds and I’m grossly simplifying computer magic I couldn’t begin to comprehend.

    • Amazon already has the power to add and remove things from our Kindles so I’m pretty sure they could do what you’re suggesting. If they could do it, I’m sure the other biggies could too. Amazon does have a ‘lending library’ for prime members. I’m not sure if there is a specific period of time you get to read the books.

      Ain’t technology grande?! 😉

      • I’ve backed up my collection of books to another portable hard drive for this reason & in case my kindle dies. I get e-books from various online retailers but cannot access them all on my kindle without changing it. If rather not give them reason to take my books if that is even allowed by law. I’ve found I can often read these books on my smart phone with a converter, depending on the book. I also recently began using local library library e-book lending as well. You & Serenity have great ideas with the borrowing system like Apples or Netflix. I wish Amazon would listen. They will if they are sent several thousands of emails though!

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