Amazon announced the Kindle lending system at the very end of 2010, and while it’s far from perfect, it’s a move in the right direction.
One new startup, the Kindle Lending Club, is trying to take it a step further.
As of right now, here’s how the Kindle lending system works.
- You can loan an e-book that you own to another person only one time.
- The loan is in effect for 14 days. When you loan a book to a friend, it becomes unavailable on your Kindle. After that two-week period, the book is deleted from your friend’s Kindle and returns to yours.
- The person you loan the e-book to does not need to own a Kindle, since he or she can read it using the Kindle app for iOS, Android, PC or Mac.
- Not all books are available for lending – it’s up to the publisher to decide whether to enable it or not.
The Kindle Lending Club is trying to create a market of e-book loans. When you sign up for the program, you build a list of the e-books on your device that you are willing to share. Then you can submit a borrow request, which basically puts you on a waiting list for a specific book. When the book becomes available, the system matches up the borrower with the lender.
My take: it’s a nice idea, but due to Amazon’s restrictions on e-book loaning, the Kindle Lending Club is not a viable option for any serious readers. There’s no way to predict when your requested books will become available, and the system is not automated enough to work smoothly. Once your book finally does become available, you still have to wait for the lender to log in to his or her Amazon account and share the book with you. Plus there’s a huge trust factor involved, and that’s never a safe bet on the Internet.