eBook Fling is one of the new kids on the block in terms of eBook lending sites. They specialize in support for both the Kindle and Nook full line of e-readers and their supported applications. Within just a few weeks of launching, their site reached over 10,000 members.
Anna De Souza of eBook Fling explains her company as “an e-book swapping community that helps people get the most out of their e-reading experience by helping them find people to lend books with.”
What eBook Fling really does is facilitate the lending process between users who do not know each other, giving them the ability to lend and borrow books from each other. Their system works with all Amazon e-readers and apps and ditto with Barnes and Noble.
Of course, there are many eBook lending competitors such as Lendle and Booklending, but what really separates eBook Fling from the competition? Anna mentions “We feel we provide a better service than our competitors because we actually monitor the trade process. Instead of handing out someone’s e-mail address, we create anonymous one-time-use e-mails to facilitate a trade. It helps to reduce fake-senders, scammers, spammers, and other ilk.”
While other lending sites are basically one man operations eBook Fling has a wellspring of experience in running companies. The founders of eBook Fling previously launched a company called BookSwim.com which was hailed as the “Netflix for Books.” That business is still going strong. All the founding members have been involved in web development and startups for many years though.
It was only a few weeks ago that Amazon came down hard on Lendle and revoked their API access, throwing their entire business model into limbo. This made big news on the internet and behind closed doors many other ebook lending companies were shaking in their boots. Anna De Souza had this to say about her company’s position on what transpired and how it might effect the future of the ebook lending model. “We see ourselves as a benefit to both Amazon and B&N. We believe that we will actually increase the sales of e-books (for those that do not wish to wait, or want books that aren’t lendable). As well, we believe that we make the Nook or Kindle a more viable purchase option. Many people are hesitant to get into e-books because their library doesn’t lend them and because they cannot borrow from friends. We enable that to be possible and therefore we see ourselves as an overall benefit to sellers/publishers.”
Recently at Good e-Reader we wrote an article on the future of eBook piracy and how eBook lending clubs will facilitate their demise. Upon reading the article eBook Fling responded “I feel that people will using lending to try out new authors, try out unknown titles, and try to source some of their books cheaper. They will still buy books, and I don’t believe lending will reduce total purchases. I’ve yet to see any data that supports that giving away/lending books reduces sales numbers at all. In fact, I’ve seen data that shows if you give things away for free, it can increase sales (if done correctly). As for your piracy article – I think lending will have no effect on piracy. Those who wish to lend are looking for a legal way to do what they’ve been doing with physical books. Pirates want to steal and theres little you can do to stop that.”
eBook Fling allows borrowers without much of an internal sharing library to pay credits in order to purchase books. Normally each is around $2.99 and compared to the purchase price of an ebook ($10.00) you can see the advantage of using eBook Fling. The company believes charging people to borrow books in some cases fast tracks their development process and puts more money into the company coffers allowing them to bust out some cool future features.
Sounds like a sound business model, but things are not all rosy. “Not enough books are lendable. Publishers fear what lending will do, but as I said before, giving things away (in limited quantities) helps sales. I would love to see publishers embracing lending more. In fact, I see that being the near-term future,” said Anna.
When we interviewed the founders of Booklending, they echoed simalar sentiments, that not enough books are lendable and hopefully Amazon and Barnes and Noble will see the process of lending books as big business. The entire concept of lending can really be the deciding factor when a customer decides on what e-reader they want to buy.
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.