Well, now it’s official – Amazon has finally broken a tiny crack in the tough outer shell of their Kindle, a nearly microscopic one… the BIG news about allowing lending your Kindle eBooks from one device to another is official.
The upshot is that I can now choose to make the eBooks that I bought available to another user, much like lending a book that you purchased that you loan out to a friend, but with these choking restrictions:
- You may loan it for a period of 14 days
- When it is in loaned status, you will not have access to it
- You can only loan it one time – that’s right – ONE TIME (!!)
- You can only loan it if the publisher has OKed loaning their content
- You can only instigate sharing on the Amazon website – not on your device (!)
The restrictions obviously just plain stink. Even public libraries allow you to take out books for 21 days, and then you can renew them a reasonable number of times if you haven’t finished them, and if you own a book, you can lend it to as many people as you like.
And I am most disappointed that Amazon didn’t use their growing power to shake up the publishing industry a bit, like Apple did with its power, shaking up the carrier industry with apps. It is like they aren’t even trying.
Picture a world in which all the content I buy on my Kindle (or in my Audible.com account – that is also an Amazon product, and the content there could be treated the same way) could be shared with anyone else who owns an Amazon device or runs an Amazon app. Amazon could build an amazing platform that encouraged the purchase of eBooks and devices/apps. I can understand that there needs to be some reasonable ways for the content creators to get paid for the value they create, but the current system is so artificial. Amazon is doing a terrible job managing the transition from the old world of publishing and scarcity to the new one of eBooks, abundance, and sharing. They are creating a bunch of haters with their artificial restrictions, rather than a loyal user base that a compelling platform needs.
I have always been a bit embarrassed to admit that I own a Kindle. It seemed like a great device to purchase at the time, two Christmases back – before the advent of the iPad and the rest of the tablet market. I have been ringing the gong on the eBook market since 1998, and I was so happy that ten years later it was finally getting a seemingly big push. I had to be a part of it. But is so obvious now that Amazon shouldn’t be a hardware manufacturer – it is just not in their DNA as a company.
Stay tuned for more fun down the road… Kindle users are already banding together to change the system. There is a group of us on Facebook who are building a bigger “lending library”, and I think it is just time before someone finds a bigger loophole to exploit and the whole system comes crashing down, ala Napster. How long can the old world publishing industry hold out, and how long can their weak enabler Amazon carry the water for them?
- Fearmongering: Kindle Lending Feature Will Lead To ‘Lost’ Book Sales? (techdirt.com)
- Goodbye Libraries? Kindle Offers Lending. (daveenjoys.com)
- Kindle Allows E-Book Lending … Sort Of (newser.com)