Amazon Attempts to Shut Down eBook Lending Services

Remember those ebook sharing sites that popped up after Amazon added a lending feature to its Kindle ereader? The websites are popular among Kindle users because they allow them to connect and swap books with each other. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Amazon is now attempting to shut these sites down by revoking their access to Amazon’s database.

The Lendle ebook sharing service shut down yesterday after Amazon revoked access to their API. A statement on Lendle’s website says, “The letter we received from Amazon states that the reason our API and Amazon Associates accounts have been revoked is that Lendle does not ‘serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.'”

As Lendle points out, in order to use their service users must be willing to lend books, and the only way to lend a book is if you’ve purchased it. Their philosophy is “You can’t borrow if you don’t lend, and you can’t lend if you don’t buy.” Lendle also speculates that Amazon might be responding to pressure from “skittish” publishers.

Similar sites like BookLending.com and eBook Fling are currently still operating. BookLending.com says on Twitter “it’s business as usual” for them. However, according to Lendle, they are not the only one to have their API access revoked. But perhaps the sites still operating have been able to find a workaround.

So have you used the Kindle lending feature? What do you think of Amazon’s actions? Are they alienating their customers?

UPDATE 3/23/2011: Amazon has reinstated Lendle’s API access and they are back up and running.

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  • http://www.daemonstv.com/ Sandie

    That’s interesting. I’m not sure this was a good decision for Amazon. Since you can only lend a book once, Lendle might actually have promoted some people to purchase more books so that they could get another one lent to them. But now instead of buying that extra book, they might choose to go to the library instead. Just a thought.

    I just hope Amazon finds a better way for people to lend their books. Maybe you can have sort of like a circle of friends with a max of 5 that you add to your Kindle network or something (like those cell phone plans) and you’re allowed to lend books to these five people only. That would allow ebooks to feel like a real book that you can lend to friends and family, and at the same time prevent people from lending their books out through services like Lendle.