E-Book Lending Under Attack

Detail of British Library via WikiCommons

Detail of British Library via WikiCommons

Libraries are great. Miraculous, even. We grew up reading and rereading library books. But, as the Wheeler Centre Dailies has reported before (here and here), many libraries are feeling the pinch. In the UK and US, budgetary pressures are taking their toll, for one thing. But in the longer term, there’s plenty of fascinating discussion on what libraries will become in the brave new world of e-publishing.

As books are going digital, so are libraries. An e-book library at a Taiwanese airport claims to be a world-first.

But many publishers are wary, fearing that allowing readers to lend their e-books may encourage them to avoid paying for them. In mid-March, the Wall Street Journal reported on several websites that facilitate e-book lending on Kindle and Nook devices, from which lending wasn’t previously possible.

This is how it’s supposed to work: “Users request the title they want to borrow. If would-be lenders approve the loan of, for example, a Kindle book, they are directed to an Amazon page to complete the swap. The borrower gets the book for 14 days, after which it disappears from the borrower’s library and the lender gets it back.”

Yesterday, Galleycat reported that Amazon had effectively acted to prevent one of the sites, Lendle, from allowing users to lend and borrow books.

One wonders whether they’re fighting a losing battle reading articles like this.