Amazon deals a blow to Lendle e-book lending site

Amazon has revoked Lendle's API access, saying that the e-book lending service "does not serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site."

Kindle readers are free to offer one-time loans of their e-books – but as of today they can't coordinate those loans on Lendle, a site designed to facilitate e-book swaps.

Wow, that was fast! E-book lending service Lendle, launched just last month to capitalize on Amazon's Kindle e-book lending capacity, is now off-line. Amazon has revoked the site's API access – which means access to all Amazon products – and the site is now "unavailable indefinitely."

Lendle explained via Twitter that: "Amazon has revoked Lendle's API access. This is why the site is down. It's sad and unfortunate that Amazon is shutting down lending sites."

The reason? Lendle further explained: "According to Amazon, Lendle does not 'serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.' "

Lendle is not the only e-book lending site. At least two other sites – eBook Fling and BookLending – have also sprung up in recent weeks. All are hoping to take advantage of the new e-book lending capacity provided by both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Both sites offer "lendable" e-books which means that readers are free to loan books to one another for a limited 14-day period. (Each book, however, may be loaned only once.)

The point of the new sites is to connect readers willing to lend with those interested in borrowing. Readers able to match their interests might be able to arrange a swap – allowing both readers to enjoy a second book for free.

And therein lies the problem: the possibility of lost sales for Amazon.

But would-be Lendle users are furious and some are insisting – via Twitter – that Amazon has made a big mistake. Allowing swaps, some say, also allows sampling and will only encourage further sales.

"It's official, @amazon takes home the trophy for 'dumbest business move of the day' for shutting down @lendleapp," tweeted one disgruntled reader.

"Sad that @amazon revoked @lendleapp's API. @amazonkindle was more actually more appealing because of Lendle. How does that NOT drive sales?" asked another.

So far Amazon is not known to have made a similar move with eBook fling and Booklending, although Lendle founder Jeff Croft insists that he knows that at least two other Kindle lending services received the same message. "They may not be reacting as fast as us, or they may be a bit more defiant," he told Digital Media.

Croft also said that he has reached out to Amazon hoping for a discussion but had not yet heard back from the company.

In the meantime, the unhappy tweets continue to pile up – although it remains to be seen whether or not comments like "Wow! Amazon just killed @lendleapp and my desire to own a Kindle" will cause the e-tailing giant to reconsider.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor’s book editor.

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