I gave you my thoughts in detail about Amazon’s new Kindle Book Lending Program in this post but now that we’ve covered the basics, I want to take a moment to think a little bit outside the box about what this announcement could mean.
There are people, right now, who own hundreds of physical books. While many of these people like to hoard them, many more love to play librarian and frequently lend out books to friends. This is a big part of traditional reader culture, the people who love words and love to share words with others.
Now, picture this same personality type but instead of hundreds of physical books, they have tons of eBooks. With this new lending feature, this person has the option of being the first of their friends to be everyone else’s go-to e-librarian. This person is more likely to buy more eBooks specifically because they know others will want to borrow them, making eBooks that much more “collectible.” They like being the person others rely on for their reading needs and suddenly this new market gives them a new opportunity to fill a need that didn’t exist before.
Let’s take this one step further. Many libraries already lend out eBooks (my local library uses ListenNJ to lend both eBooks and Audiobooks and I know they aren’t alone). But with compatibility issues abound depending on your eReader, there is a definite appeal for some users to their library not just loaning them an eBook, but specifically a Kindle eBook. With the availability of Kindle Apps on just about every device including PC, Amazon is making sure they are the first destination for eBooks with their widespread compatibility. That increases the likelihood that someone looking to read an eBook is looking for a Kindle friendly version, that’s just a rule of percentages kind of thing.
So will your local library start to have a library Kindle account where they’ve bought a copy of many eBooks for the purpose of lending them through Amazon’s lending program?
Or, more likely, is this lending program just a precursor/test of some kind of library exclusive Kindle account that gives libraries extended lending privileges?
Could this Lending program be intended to replace the sort of eBook lending sites libraries currently use?
The eBook market is still very much in its infancy so this is all conjecture at this point but its interesting to speculate. How do you think eBook lending will evolve? How will it effect reader and library culture?