Amazon introduces lending feature for Kindle

By ALISON AGUDO

Amazon has introduced something new to its Kindle devices – a lending feature that allows users to loan out supported titles once for a period of 14 days. I personally haven’t used a Kindle because I prefer books, but I have nothing against it and think expanding the reach of books, even if it’s digitally, is a great idea.

Currently, the Amazon loan program is all done through its Web browser. Social media and technology website Mashable believes that in the future Amazon will enable a way of lending out books from within a device, but that system is currently not available.

The website process is relatively simple although Kindle users should be aware that it is up to individual publishers and rights holders to determine whether their books can be loaned out through Kindle or not.

So while you will certainly have “library” type access to many titles, if you don’t find the one you’re looking for, it’s not because Amazon doesn’t want to make them available, it’s probably because the backend of the deals are holding out. By visiting the “product details” section of any Kindle book page, users can find out if a specific Kindle book is lendable.  Lendable books are clearly marked as “Enabled” to indicate to users that they can lend away their e-books without any risk.

If you already own certain books through Kindle, a yellow indicator will show up at the top of the product page to let you know that you can lend the book out to another user who is logged into his or her Amazon account. All you have to do is press the “Loan this book” link and the lending process will start.

One note of warning – make sure you don’t want access to the book that you are loaning out for 14 days. While the person you loan it to has access to the book, you are unable to access it. While this may annoy some users, it’s really no different than if you were to loan out an actual book to a friend – while they have it, you don’t. Just the way it goes.

However, one difference between loaning an e-book on Kindle and lending out an actual book, once a book has been loaned out once on Kindle, it cannot be loaned again. The reasoning behind this is still unclear.

The concept is one that journalism students should be aware of. First of all, as writers, we should all be reading to some extent (whether from actual books or e-books) and secondly, because loaning out e-books, copyright concerns and publishing rights are all something we may have to deal with if/when we’re published.

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