Some really exciting news out of Amazon in the last few days: You can now let a friend borrow one of your Kindle books for up to 14 days.

You can read all the documentation on the Kindle Lending Program here but let me do a quick summary of the big details for you.

  • The program is “opt-in” for publishers so not all books can be lent. Publishers and authors who want their readers to be able to lend their eBooks out will need to log into the Amazon DTP and check off the “Kindle Book Lending” option under “Rights & Pricing” in their account. Lending is activated by default so, if you don’t want readers to be able to lend your titles, you’ll need to make sure to uncheck this option. 
  • Just like when you loan a physical book, the book is not available to the original owner while on loan.
  • Lending is free to all involved and the lending period lasts up to 14 days.

My take?

  • My thoughts as a reader: I love it! Huge props to Amazon for managing to come up with a solution to one of the biggest complaints about eBooks: that you couldn’t lend them to a friend after you were done which is a big part of reader culture. Expect to see lots of “Can anyone lend me Book X on the Kindle for my vacation, please? :-)” type posts on Twitter and Facebook in the near future.
    It’s a selling point for the Kindle as well. You could, in theory, own a Kindle and read on it all the time without ever buying a book yourself. You could rely entirely on borrowing books from friends. It also allows friends to split the cost of a book they both want and share it which is cool. I would totally do this with my mom if we both owned Kindles.
  • My thoughts as a retailer/publisher/author: I know that some will cry foul that this will result in less sales but I think the way Amazon is handling it is fantastic. The ability to lend the book to friends is a selling point for most readers and will likely result in sales from customers who otherwise wouldn’t have thought of buying an eBook. I also think that a someone who had the book lent to them is still a customer: they are that much more likely to buy the author’s next title or give that item as a gift if they enjoyed it. Also, to be frank, people will always find a way to bootleg or pirate anything digital if they want a copy that bad and Amazon has at least given a simple, legal alternative. 

I have a few more random thoughts on this so stay tuned for future posts. But, whether you are a reader, retailer or author/publisher, what do you think this news means for you?