E-book lending libraries—the good?

This is the first of a two-part article on e-book lending. Today I’ll state my opinion of the good side, so I guess you can figure what part two will cover. I’ve known for a while about the Overdrive lending system, which works through the brick and mortar library systems throughout the country. My book is not available through that system—at least, not yet—but I recently discovered that it is available through at least some online e-libraries.

This is the first of a two-part article on e-book lending. Today I’ll state my opinion of the good side, so I guess you can figure what part two will cover. I’ve known for a while about the Overdrive lending system, which works through the brick and mortar library systems throughout the country. My book is not available through that system—at least, not yet—but I recently discovered that it is available through at least some online e-libraries.

For all the time I spend online, somehow I missed hearing about e-book lending libraries. Yesterday, I signed in to Twitter briefly and checked my “lists” to see what’s been going on in my absence. One of the columns I watch in Tweetdeck is a search for any mention of my novel The Brevity of Roses, and when I checked, I saw the following had been tweeted by @BLFeed a few days ago:

REQUEST: The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis

I clicked the link and found myself at Booklending.com an e-book lending site for Kindle owners. Some member had agreed to lend their copy of my book in exchange for the privilege of borrowing a different book from another member. Naturally, my next step was to google “e-book lending” to see if there were other sites like that one. Indeed there are. I found eight.

Half of those eight allow you to search their database without being a member. I found my book available on three of the four that do. Seven of the eight lend Kindlebooks, but only four of them also lend Nookbooks. One lends only Nookbooks. Most of them require you to be a lender in order to borrow.

Today, I’m listing only six of the eight lending sites I checked out because I have reservations about the policies of the other two. I’ll tell you about those two in my next post.

How is e-book lending a good thing? For a moment, when I saw my book listed on these lending sites, my inner cop frowned. As I read the lending policies on the sites listed above, I relaxed. They use the lending feature of the Kindle and Nook, so each person who buys a book for their own reader can only lend it once—legally. (More on that in Part Two). So you buy my book, you read it, and then you share it with someone else. Maybe I’ve made two fans of my work. That’s good.

If my books were in physical libraries, either as print or e-book downloads, any number of people would have access to them. As one who’s made great use of libraries my whole life, I can hardly criticize that process. In the seven months Brevity’s been published, I’ve given away nearly as many copies as I’ve sold. Just last month, I gave away fifty Brevity e-books at LibraryThing. Yet, I’ll confess, it makes me nervous to know people are freely trading my book at these sites. Why is that?

I want as many people as possible to read my writing. Yes, I lose money every time someone borrows rather than buys my book, but eventually I’ll have more books out there and if they liked the first, maybe they’ll buy the second. (Gosh, does that sounds like I’m a drug dealer, handing out freebies to get you hooked?)

Maybe it’s just the perceived loss of control. Perceived, I say because for all I know, someone might have bought Brevity in e-format and already given copies to ten thousand people. And I have to be honest, there are books I’d like to read that I can’t afford to buy and my library system doesn’t have, so I’m tempted to see if they’re in any of these online libraries. But if I wanted to borrow, I’d have to lend, and that means I’d be lending some of your books.

Your turn: What say ye about these e-book lending sites? Do you use them? Do you want your books available there?

Read Part Two of this article.

11 thoughts on “E-book lending libraries—the good?

  1. Hope to put 100 cartoon book kindle soon $4. Will I sell 50? 100? It has become less of making any money but of leaving a footprint of myself. Do my kids even have any appreciation though? Not at all. I have posted 352 humor pieces on my 14 month old blog and have not made a penny. But have over 100 subscribers and we look forward to each other’s posts. I have found great value in that.

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  2. I’m not sure how I feel about lending, however, it is all about word of mouth, so the more people who read it, whether through buying or lending, the better. Because someone will say, “hey, did you read this yet? It’s fantastic.”

    And someone, had to buy it once to lend it? Yes? So there is a sale somewhere.

    But I do understand what you mean. It’s not so much you don’t WANT to lend, it’s all about the money. We all want to make it. There’s no shame in admitting it. And through those lenders they can only lend it once. So that’s something. Perhaps it will lead to other sales.

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    1. You’re right, Anne, word of mouth is our best friend, so this controlled lending — buy a book and lend it once — is a good thing for authors. It’s the non-tangible aspect of e-books that makes me uncomfortable with lending. The second part of this post is about that aspect and what sort of “lending” it can lead to.

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  3. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I found my books on the sites you listed. I see there is a link to buy them as well so perhaps it is a good thing, not sure. I was unaware of this before. Another good reason to follow other writer’s blogs.

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    1. I didn’t notice a link to buy, Darlene, so thanks for mentioning that. I didn’t sign up at any of the sites, so I could only see if my book was on the ones that allow you to search without joining. Of course, I don’t know if that means someone has actually offered each of these book for lending, or if the sites just list every book available on Kindle. I wonder if there’s a way you could see how many times your books have been borrowed?

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      1. Hi! I stumbled upon this post and wanted to let you know that one of the sites, Lendle, is pretty transparent with how many times each book has been listed and borrowed. On that site, no one has yet to list or borrow your book. The other sites as far as I know don’t list that information.

        It’s true that you “lose money every time someone borrows rather than buys” your book, but since some of those borrowers wouldn’t have paid for the book in the first place and only read it and found out about you because they were able to borrow it, I think that in the end book-lending is a great tool for everyone involved.

        I usually lend my favorite physical books to my friends (in the “you have to read this, it’s amazing!” sense). I hope that more ebooks will become lending enabled so as to avoid losing that book-excitement-sharing that is an awesome part of reading. 🙂

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        1. Thank you for the comment, Andrea. I’m not against controlled e-book lending. I borrow both print and e-books from our public library system, and I agree that we should be able to lend our e-books to friends, just as we do our print books. Positive word of mouth is always a benefit to authors … well, sometimes even negative can be. 🙂

          But I am against individuals uploading e-books to sites where books are borrowed for a cost, especially when the site owner insinuates that part of that money goes to the authors.

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  4. As someone who almost never buys books (especially fiction) and always uses a library or borrows from a friend, I love the idea of lending e-books. I’ve been researching e-Readers and suspect I will receive one this Christmas. The first criteria I looked for was the ability to lend books from libraries and to be able to lend & loan books from other people with e-readers.

    I haven’t published a book, so maybe I would change my tune if I did but I think I’d rather have my ideas be shared. I don’t write to make money, I write to express ideas I think other people might benefit from.

    I just peeked at your blog. If you should write a book to teach and inspire others in your faith and expect no compensation, that would be done as your spiritual mission. I can understand that.

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    1. Andrea, thank you for reading and leaving a comment. 🙂

      As one who has benefited greatly from libraries, I have no problem with book lending–within boundaries. I love to share ideas, that’s why I blog. However, I do think I should be paid for my novels. Each one represents about two years work. If people thought of it that way, I think they’d agree they wouldn’t like to work two years for no wage … especially if that wage goes to someone else who did no work at all.

      I think about all the books I borrowed from the library and enjoyed, but never even “paid” the author with a review at Amazon, Goodreads, etc. I think that’s the least I could do in appreciation for their talent and hard work.

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