November 23, 2020

E-Book Lending Takes Off

E-Book Lending Takes Off

Electronic-book lending isn’t just for friends anymore.

In the past few months, online clubs with such names as BookLending.com and Lendle.me have proliferated. The sites, some of which have gathered thousands of users, allow strangers to borrow and lend e-books for Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook free.

The sites are the latest twist in the industry of e-books, which has disrupted the traditional book-publishing industry and changed that business’s economics. Public libraries can’t lend e-books in the Kindle format, though they can for other e-reading devices.

Previously, Kindle and Nook readers were largely limited to sharing e-books with friends because two users needed to know each other’s email address to initiate a loan. The new sites give e-book readers access to a larger network of people and a larger selection of books.

The lending sites have drawbacks. One is limited selection. Most major book publishers haven’t made their e-books lendable, and the books can be lent only once and for only 14 days. That means that with every successful loan, the sites’ available library shrinks unless new users with books to lend join.

Some publishers, which are monitoring the sites closely, say they fear that making books available for loan may deter people from buying physical and digital books.

The lending sites’ founders say they are helping publishers because their users, after borrowing books, can purchase other books in the same series or by the same author.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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