Once Amazon decided to let Kindle users lend out books, it was only a matter of time until services sprung up to open up lending to the wider world. Lendle was one of those services, but now Amazon has pulled the plug on them. Today, Lendle’s website states: “Amazon has revoked Lendle’s API access. Unfortunately, Lendle is unavailable indefinitely. We will do everything we can to restore service soon.”
The Lendle service was free, did not feature ads, and even included a link to buy each book listed for lending on Amazon. Books lent were only available for 14 days, and you can’t read the book on your Kindle while it’s lent out. Once you signed up for a Lendle account, you could sync it with your Amazon account so that all of your Kindle books were visible. Lendle would determine which ones were lendable (the publishers determine this), and then the books were listed as available for borrowing. And if you didn’t agree to lend out your books, you couldn’t borrow books. You had to have an Amazon account, and show that you had purchased Kindle books in order to participate.
Users requested to borrow a book, and each request had to be approved by the lender. Amazon let Lendle know on Monday, via a no-reply email, that Lendle didn’t “serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.”
Jeff Croft, Lendle’s cofounder disagrees. “As a published author, it was very important to me personally to build the system in a way that was good for authors and publishers,” Croft said. “Our site requires that you be willing to lend books before you can borrow them. We even went so far as to allow users to sync their Lendle accounts with their Kindle accounts, so that we could ensure anyone who borrows books on Lendle has previously purchased lendable books from Amazon. Our philosophy is: You can’t borrow if you don’t lend, and you can’t lend if you don’t buy.”
Another service, BookLending, has reported to ArsTechnica that its API access has not been interrupted. But that may not last long. Amazon has been very cautious with its lending policies, no doubt motivated by publishers who don’t really want e-book files being passed around for free. Amazon only started the lending program late in 2010, and even now doesn’t widely promote it.
We will keep you informed on any further developments. We’re sure that the various book lending services will be trying their best to change Amazon’s mind.