eBook lending clubs have started to mature over the last few months as Amazon released book sharing functions for their Kindle line of electronic readers. Amazon allows lending of select books purchased from their company. These books can be sent to anyone who has a Kindle, or one of their apps. The website eBooklending.com helps facilitate the lending process, by helping connecting users with each other that would not have otherwise have met. This expands their library of books so more people can discover new literary works and new authors.
Amazon only rolled out their lending program December 30th 2010 and since then ebooklending.com has been at the forefront of this burgeoning market segment. We recently talked with Catherine MacDonald the woman behind the company on the origins. “The day Amazon rolled out lending, December 30, I thought it would be cool to have a community where people connect with one another to lend and borrow Kindle books. The next day, I created a page on Facebook and told some friends about it and word started to spread fast. Within a few days, the page had close to 1,000 likes and the page’s discussion tab was very busy with lending and borrowing requests. I realized that we really needed a custom website to serve the community in a scalable way.” She went on to add “We launched the site very fast – less than two weeks. Essentially, we went in with a baseline idea of the functionality the site needed to have to truly streamline community lending and borrowing, and we created it as quickly as possible.”
Booklending.com has made a number of changes since they first started their company. Several weeks after launching, they developed an algorithm that rewards their site’s more engaged members with faster book loans. So far, feedback has been excellent and they are very happy with how this has improved the way BookLending.com serves its members.
The book lending niche has around 6 major players with most recently Lendle got served its walking papers with Amazon axing the company from its affiliate program. We asked Catherine what she thought about its competitive edge against rival companies – “We have a wonderful community of Kindle book readers numbering over 18,000 and most of these members are on Facebook with us as well as on the site. The community is growing steadily through word of mouth. We spend hours a day getting to know and looking after the community members, and we believe that when you do that, the community can’t help but grow.”
Recently at Good e-Reader we wrote an excellent article on the ramifications of eBook lending affecting eBook piracy. The essence of our statement was that close to 75% of all pirates ebooks suffer from badly formatted books, spelling mistakes, scanned books and other factors that contribute to most books easily found as unreadable on most e-readers. Where as with lending clubs you have the legitimate store bought book in perfect working order. Sure you cannot keep the book, but often a two week lending period is all most normal readers need in order to complete a book. Most people pirate books because of the money factor and most book sharing clubs allow their members to lend and get lent books for free. Sounds like a good deal, and Catherine agrees with us. After reading our article she commented “We agree that easy, user-friendly and affordable legitimate access to electronic media reduces piracy – just look at iTunes and music. We feel that most people want to stay on the right side of of copyright law and that the drawbacks you listed in that excellent article are absolutely a disincentive when more legitimate, attractive alternatives like ebook lending exist. Beyond that, we find that our community members get satisfaction from the reciprocity and interaction that they experience when they lend and borrow in the BookLending.com community.”
In the end, we think Booklending.com is a great community with over 16,000 users. Although we only support the Amazon community at not Barnes and Noble or anything else its still very solid. We recommend checking them out today.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.