New Kindle feature – Loaning books

Amazon has added a new feature to Kindle books – the ability to lend a book to a friend for 14 days.  Barnes & Noble Nook users have had this feature for a while.

Basically, if the publisher has allowed it, you can loan an e-book that you’ve purchased through the Amazon store to another person.  The person that you loan the book to doesn’t have to have a Kindle – they can use one of the Kindle apps for Windows, Mac, iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad), or Android.  Once a loan is sent, the recipient has seven days to accept it.  Once it is accepted, they have 14 days until it is “returned” to the owner.  The recipient can return the book sooner if they are finished with it.

There are a few caveats:

  • While the book is “loaned out,” the owner is unable to read it.  Pretty much like loaning out a real book.
  • The book’s publisher has to allow the lending feature for that book.
  • You can only loan a particular book ONE TIME per book.  Not one time to a particular person, but each book can only be loaned out one time.
  • The feature is currently only available to U.S. customers.  A U.S. customer can send a book loan to someone outside of the U.S., but the recipient may not be able to accept it – for instance, if that particular book is not available in that country, they will not be able to accept the loan.
  • I have not found any information to indicate that the person who loaned out the book can “recall” the book or otherwise cancel a loan.  Thus, once the recipient accepts the loan, the owner must wait the 14 days or until the recipient returns the book, whichever comes first.

Loans are initiated either from the “Manage My Kindle” page or from the Amazon store page for the particular book.

More information is available at Amazon.com Help: Lending Kindle Books.

For comparison, I reviewed the details of Barnes & Noble’s Nook “LendMe™” feature.  The two features appear to be exactly the same, including only being able to loan a particular book one time.

More information about LendMe™ is available at Managing your Library – Barnes & Noble.

All in all, I believe this is a good feature and one of the few real gaps that I’ve felt have existed between the Kindle and the Nook.  The caveats, particularly only being able to loan a book one time, put a bit of a damper on it, but it’s a good start.  It at least lays the technological basis for a better service.

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