by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
ebooks, kindle, lending


Fearmongering: Kindle Lending Feature Will Lead To 'Lost' Book Sales?

from the and-burn-down-the-libraries dept

We've already pointed out how Amazon's new "lending" feature for Kindle ebooks is extremely limited, in such a way that it's barely useful, but already we're seeing fearmongering about how that feature is going to create "lost" book sales. Glyn Moody points us to an article at The Next Web, which discusses how some folks have formed a "lending club" on Facebook, so that they can find a larger pool of people to lend books to and from. And, the article's author warns, this inevitably means "lost" book sales:
Whether Amazon anticipated users organising themselves into a lending club or not, we're not sure but it's likely to result in many lost sales. After all, most books can be comfortably read in 14 days. If all you need to do to get hold of Kindle books is to request a loan from a stranger online, how many will you actually bother to buy?
The article goes on to ask: "can Amazon really do anything to stop this growing?" and wonders if publishers will kill off this feature entirely.

Let's try rewriting that paragraph in a manner that highlights the ridiculousness of the argument:
Whether library organizers anticipated users taking out books or not, we're not sure but it's likely to result in many lost sales. After all, most books can be comfortably read in 14 days. If all you need to do to get a hold of books is to go to the library and take one out, how many will actually bother to buy?
And yet, libraries did not kill book sales. At all. Separately, one of the reasons why I still haven't joined the ebook parade is that I like being able to actually lend out books to others. So, by the argument above, it's the DRM feature on ebooks today that has meant "lost sales." So perhaps we should just get rid of that? Limiting the usefulness of ebooks with crazy restrictions makes them a lot less valuable, meaning decreased sales. Ignoring that and thinking that only this sort of extremely limited lending will somehow harm ebook sales is pure fearmongering and is based on very little evidence.

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  1. identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, 4 Jan 2011 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    it only affects legitimate customers
    Yeah I know. But despite being a pessimist and a cynic I have occasional flashes of gratuitous and unfounded optimism and I was hoping that with so many negative examples to show how badly it works the "new" industy of (ubiquitous scale) ebooks might try something different. *sigh* Back to the old drawing board.

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