Friday, February 12, 2010

eReading – Lending Books

I sent this to Barnes and Noble, as well as Random House recently after the much vaunted “lending” technology in the Barnes and Noble e-readers didn’t work as expected for me.

My wife pinged me this morning, asking about the “lending” technology on Barnes and Noble.

I just went to try and lend an e-book to my wife on Barnes and Noble. We typically do a lot of e-reading as it's more convenient for us. I wanted her to try a new author, but don't want to give up my device. However, the novel, in this case Grift Sense from James Swain, wasn't lend-able.

I understand this is a publisher limitation. Please remove this. It's asinine to expect that the capabilities of physical books, i.e. lending, should not be allowed. It's not a copy, I lose the book while it's lent, which is perfectly acceptable. The sharing of books is a great way that I've gotten other people interested in authors, and I’ve gotten interested as well. Letting me share a book I like with a friend, for some reasonable time, is a way to promote reading, not kill your sales. I would also like to be able to "sell" my ebooks, though I think we are a little ways away from that technology.

E-reading for me over the last couple years has had me moving from reading about 50 books a year to more than 70. I now buy my books instead of going to the library as much and that's fine. I'm happy to pay for good content. But stop trying to restrict things. Please make all your titles available as e-books, and make them lend-able.

I like the idea of sharing books, especially when we don’t share accounts. My wife and I had separate accounts on B&N, though we’ve been looking to go to a merged account so that we each can see books the other has read. It’s silly for us to have to re-buy a book within the family.

I think this is one place the the publishers are going to have to let go a little and trust people to do some sharing. Most people I know are comfortable buying books, and they make the investments. Don’t penalize them to prevent e-reading.

I also think that B&N or Amazon could get ahead of the curve here and allow us to “re-sell” our used e-books to others. By putting up a market for people that want to sell their e-books, they could allow us to even buy more books with the money we make.

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