Update: the site is moved now to BookLending.com but it’s one and the same. I actually received my first book borrowed from BookLending.com from a person I don’t even know but who was nice enough to lend it to me. Isn’t it cool? Read on to see all the details about this awesome community.
You cannot borrow a book directly on Amazon. US residents can lend the ones they purchased but they cannot borrow one. So up until now one could only borrow from friends. But not anymore. I discovered a great website just the other day where people can lend and borrow Kindle books, Kindle Lending Club. You have to register either with your Facebook account or you can also create a new account using your email address.
It’s still in a beta version but it works quite well. If you want to lend a book, just search for it and click on the Lend button. The book will be automatically added to your “Available to lend” list. If someone already requested this book, a popup window will list the users and you can choose to whom you would like to lend it to. This will take you to the Amazon page where you have to do the actual lending and confirm it on the top of the page when it’s done.
Borrowing is even easier. You simply search for the book and click on Borrow. If no one put it in their available to lend list, the borrow request will be saved in your list until it will be available. Unfortunately not all books are lendable but this is not Amazon’s fault, the publisher decides it. Also it is possible that a certain book is not available in a specific region, in which case Amazon will not proceed with the lending and it will notify the lender about it.
You can delete a book from your available to lend list or a request from your borrow requests list on the Kindle Lending Club.
At the current state this website is basically a mediator between the lender and the borrower. I see it like a virtual library where I walk through and pick books which I would like to read. Unfortunately the lender still has to walk up to the librarian (Amazon) to lend the book to me and I have to go to the librarian to give the book back. I would actually prefer not to go to Amazon for this and just do it directly on their website but perhaps they’ll improve it. Nevertheless it’s good to have a place where we can browse through the list of books which others are willing to lend.
I would also like to be able to automatically export my list of Kindle books and mark the ones I would like to lend. Additionally a list of categories would be also helpful. Currently I’m only able to search through a big pile of books but I cannot walk up directly to the categorized shelve to see only specific types of books which I want to borrow.
Finally, I live in Germany and unfortunately Kindle book lending can only be initiated by customers residing in the United States. I feel bad about borrowing other people’s books but not being able to lend mine to others. It doesn’t seem fair. I hope international Kindle accounts can lend soon too but until then Kindle Lending Club should disable the lending feature for users outside the US. It’s confusing everybody and other users could misunderstand it as being ill-natured, assuming that the user doesn’t want to lend their own books while actually he/she can’t.
I wonder if Amazon is going to add a similar feature, where the users can mark books in their list as lendable and borrowers could request a book to borrow directly on Amazon. It doesn’t seem logical to me that one can lend a book on Amazon to someone but cannot search for a lender or borrow a book at all. On the other hand, sales would probably drop in that case, right?