First experience borrowing an ebook via Amazon

Poontang, by Charles Willeford
Poontang, by Charles Willeford, The first book borrowed from Amazon. Kind of aweful actually :)

I’ve read a surprising amount of Kindle ebooks from Amazon during the last two years, usually in bed on the tiny iPhone screen, tucked under the covers so not to disturb my wife. But today I borrowed an ebook for the first time, via Booklending.com, one of several websites that mediate borrowing and lending between Kindle customers.

The feature was introduced on Amazon as a new years gift last year, but I haven’t had time to test it until now.

Amazon only allows US customers to lend out books, but foreigners like me can borrow books, and Booklending.com was the first site I testet that let me borrow. (Update: Lendle.me says on it’s signupscreen that its only available to US citizens, but I had no problem signing up and borrowing from them).

How it works

  • Lenders register the Kindle book they own on booklending.com.
  • Borrowers search or browse to find books they want, and click the «Borrow»-button.
  • The owner of the book is contacted by email and asked if they want to lend out that book.
  • If they do, the borrower gets an email with a link that takes him to the bookpage on Amazon, which has an «Accept loaned book»-button, instead of the buy option.
  • It is completely up to the owner of the book how long it takes for the request to go throught. The Poontang book arrived within 24 hours, the rest of my requests are still pending.
  • The offer to borrow a book has an expiration date of 7 days. If you don’t loan in within that limit, the book becomes available to someone else.
  • The rest of the prosess is just like bying a Kindle-book from Amazon. You select which device you want the book sent to, click «Accept loaned book», and the book is downloaded automagically. Sweet!
  • You now have 14 days to read the book before it is automatically removed from your device.

Testing Booklending.com

The whole experience is a bit strange. All titles that I searched for on Booklending.com were unavailable for borrowing, so I had to settle with browsing the list of recent loans. This brought back memories of using the library, walking around randomly not knowing what hides between the covers of a book. But I’m uncertain if that actually is a good thing; having to settle for a title that simply is available, instead of something you really want to read? The thing about instant availablity (for pay) is that it makes us really impatient and focused on quality.

Booklending.com summary:

Positive

  • The attempt in itself is commendable. Thumbs up!
  • I love that foreigners can borrow, even though lending out to others is blocked. Very generous and much appreciated!
  • There doesn’t seem to be a limit or ratio on how much you can borrow vs. lending out. On Lendle.me you can borrow 2 books (TK), but if you don’t lend, the option to request a book is blocked. As I can’t lend out books, being a foreigner, the fun stops there. Strike one for Booklending.com

Negative

  • Foreigners can borrow, but not lend. I love sharing, almost all my photos on Flickr are CC, and I would love to be a lender. I hope Amazon will change this policy soon.
  • Most titles I search for can’t be lent nor borrowed. Testet with almost all the titles I owned, but none where lendable. But this will hopefully change?
  • I’m having a hard time trying to find any titles to borrow.

Improvements

  • Better ways to browse available titles. Search is useless, to few titles to be useful.
  • A way to contact a user after borrowing a title. It feels very rude not to be able to thank them. Also, a public user profile with the users available titles would be wonderful!
  • More titles. Part of the problem is that booksellers aren’t allowing lending, but it also seems that Booklending.com has fewer users than Lendle.me?

The old way to lend and borrow

Before the launch of Amazon lending last year, there was another, totally useless way to share books with your friends. Compare the how-to video below to the new functions from booklending.com or lendle.me. Lending and borrowing is certainly getting easier:

Closing of with the title poem from the book (warning, several kinds of aweful!)

Poontang, by Charles Willeford, from 1967

Should I unfold this wrinkled flower?
This self-righteous vowel;
This lingering line;
This spurious spondee?
Hard on, hard
Upon the rose-webbed tarn of love,
The black lines are man-made,
The coral lines are contours,
And the blue lines are dank with
blood.

O sere, dry leatherlips,
Hawking into the sink at night,
I cannot fly with these.
Instead:-
The encounter and the countering,
The dotted-swiss dress,
The roseate blush and nights of
contact
Dancing-
The sugared soil of tendered green.
Letting love in as well as out,
Let these be these.