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Kindle lets users lend e-books to mates via email

Publishers say: Get your arse down the library, fat boy

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Amazon is allowing Kindle users to lend a book to a mate, but the UK Publishers Association reckons e-book borrowers should get down the library.

The new feature allows e-books bought for the Kindle platform to be lent out for 14 days, delivered by email and springing back to their owners automatically as detailed by Amazon, but the Publishers Association (PA) is unlikely to approve, given its stance that anyone wanting to borrow an e-book from the local library should get their bones down to the building for a bit of physical interaction with their local community.

Not that it's the local community that the Publishers Association is worried about, the organisation is concerned that easily-arranged loans will hit sales when readers are able to borrow books from the comfort of their own armchair.

Not that Kindle users can use libraries anyway: they can now lend books to each other, but most UK libraries are using the OverDrive system, which spits out books in Adobe's format. That's compatible with the vast majority of e-readers, but not Amazon's Kindle. OverDrive allows books to be downloaded, and automatically deletes them after a few weeks, but that's not enough for the PA, who reckons that borrowers should "...come onto the library’s physical premises and download an e-book at a computer terminal onto a mobile device, such as e-reader, laptop or mobile phone".

That stance has the backing of the Booksellers Association, as explained by TheBookSeller.com, which is unsurprising as both organisations exist to protect the revenue stream that goes to authors from selling books – authors do get paid for library lending, but they get paid a lot more for books sold.

Amazon's scheme is at the publisher's discretion, and it will be interesting to see how many publishers decide to opt out, just as it will be interesting to see how many UK libraries manage to keep lending electronic editions in the face of publisher objections. ®

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