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OPLIN 4Cast #219: E-book lending (personal)

Posted in 4cast

It’s a safe assumption that most of our readers have heard of the recent move by Harper Collins to restrict the lending of their e-books by libraries; the news lit up Twitter and other news channels at the end of last week. If you need a reminder of what’s going on, we recommend the article from the New York Times and/or Joe Atzberger’s blog post. In our blog post, we thought it might be interesting to look at the current state of person-to-person e-book lending. After all, many of the earliest public libraries in this country had their beginnings as interpersonal book-lending groups before they became more formally organized. (Of course, these days the groups are likely to be Internet “friends,” rather than neighbors.) Perhaps we can find some clues to successful e-book lending models by looking at e-book clubs. Or perhaps they’re just having the same problems that are plaguing libraries.

  • New Kindle lending club matches e-book borrowers and lenders (ReadWriteWeb/Audrey Watters)  “The Kindle Lending Club is the brainchild of Catherine MacDonald, who said that when she heard Amazon announce on December 30 that it was finally adding a lending option for Kindle,  she decided to set up a Facebook group—a way to help people find others who were willing to share their e-books. But as interest in the group exploded, MacDonald realized that Facebook just didn’t offer the scalability needed for such an undertaking. ‘I had no idea how viral the idea was,’ she says.”
  • E-book lending clubs (ALA TechSource/Tom Peters)  “What I find fascinating about these eBook lending clubs is that they realized that, once Barnes & Noble and Amazon enabled the lending of etexts, a nascent market had been born. However, it was an inefficient, disorganized market because, if I own a lendable Kindle edition, I have no efficient way to lend that etext to someone else who wants to read it, unless I just happen to know a family member, friend, or colleague who might be interested in reading one of my Kindle editions.”
  • Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ebooks (Librarian by Day/Bobbi L. Newman)  “First let me state that I think the lending rules on the Kindle and Nook are complete rubbish. I mean really the selection is very limited and you can only lend an item one time and for only 14 days.”
  • Kindle & Nook book lending (  “While I love the idea of being able to loan the few books I’ve purchased, the restriction on loaning a title only once will turn me into more of a hoarder than a lender. If I’m going to loan a title that I really enjoyed, I want to loan it to a friend, a good friend. And not just any good friend, but that one very good friend who will love the book the most. And the one who can get through it in the limited 14 days. Don’t bother loaning me anything, I’m a slow reader.”

Club fact (kinda):
Several people have posted lists of e-book lending groups, but the Tom Peters blog post cited above is the most current and (if you include the comments) most complete that we found.