My mother, three sisters, and I have been swapping books for years. By the time one of our books falls into the final person's hands, it has been well-loved. Now that we have e-readers, it is difficult—and at times impossible—to lend our favorite books.
According to Amazon.com: Not all books are lendable -- it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending.
If an e-book is "lendable," you will see this on the purchase page (link here):
If an e-book is NOT lending enabled, there will be nothing that reads, "Lending: Not Enabled." There will be no lending line at all. (Example here.)
I recently purchased two e-books that I thought were lendable. I didn't see any indication on the purchase page stating otherwise, so I bought them. Once I accessed the books through the Manage Your Kindle link, I discovered I was unable to lend them. To find out why, I searched "lending e-books" in the help center for Amazon.com. I located the above information, plus rules on e-books that are lendable—which I am happy to abide by—but the lending policy is not forthright, and as a customer, I feel deceived. If an e-book isn't lending enabled, why not say so upfront? Even so, if the lending status were written in bold print beside the purchase price, I still think the lockdown on lending e-books is unreasonable. Here's why:
1. Did I buy the book or not? If I bought the book, I should be able to do with it what I please. If I want to lend it, I should be able to do so. I can lend a hard copy, so why not an e-book?
2. Why do some e-books cost more than the paperback copy? I appreciate the ease of buying an e-book with one click and having it sent to my Kindle within seconds, but if I'm restricted from lending it, why would I buy the electronic copy, when for a dollar less I can have—and lend—the paperback? (Example here.)
3. I am a reader who falls in love with a book and blabs about it to anyone who will listen. I shove my copy at a friend and say, "Go. Read. NOW!" Gushing about a book is part of the joy of reading. It's disappointing that I can't do this with many of the e-books I've purchased. You may be thinking, "But the author won't profit unless the people you gush to BUY the book." I agree. Initially, the author may not profit. But if the borrower falls in love with the writer's style, they are likely to purchase previous and future books written by the author, or they may purchase a copy of the book they borrowed (like I frequently do).
If I buy an e-book I cannot lend, do I truly own it? Am I paying for the privilege to borrow the book from the publisher, or do I "own" the copy I purchased?
With Pottermore selling Harry Potter e-books in a format that isn't encrypted (article here), people can access their e-books with a freedom they've never had before. Experts anticipate this will prompt a shift in how the industry formats e-books, particularly in how dominating e-book distributors such as Amazon offer formats, but it still remains to be seen if publishers will lift their lock on restricted e-books and allow customers to lend them.
Am I alone in this frustration? Am I the only reader who believes if I purchase a book, I should be able to do with it what I please, no matter the format?
(Acknowledgments: Thank you to the authors and publishers who permit their books to be lent and borrowed. This reader appreciates you!)
Because many of you haven't taken the time to click on the links provided and you have piracy concerns, here is the rest of the information on lending e-books through Kindle. I have loaned books, and yes, they did disappear from my Kindle for 14 days. I could no longer read them until the person I lent it to had it for that time period. I have no issue with this. My issue is with disallowing me to lend the book AT ALL.
"Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle -- Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable -- it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period."