Kindle Lending Program Creates New Kind of E-Book Business
It doesn't seem possible that there'd be money to be made from lending e-books. But at least one woman figured out how to do it, and more little lending conglomerates seem to be on the way.
When on Dec. 30, Kindle decided to allow its customers to lend copies of purchased e-books (but only for 14 days, and only to one person), a 40-year-old Canadian woman named Catherine MacDonald had an idea that literally popped up in her dreams. She started the Kindle Lending Club. It started out as a Facebook site, where she'd match up people who wanted to lend a book to people who wanted to borrow. It quickly grew out of hand, so she looked for angel seed money.
Finding someone who was willing to invest $12,500, she launched a slick Web site and created a place where people can come and look for specific e-books, or offer to lend them. So far, she has lent more than 1,000 e-books among total strangers and it's all worked without a hitch.
But where does the money come in? If the lender finishes the book within the 14-day limit, no fees are assessed and everything is free. But if the borrowers discover that they can't finish within Amazon's 14-day lending window (and things do come up in life--someone gets sick, or a business trip comes up) lendees can offer a link to buy the e-book and lenders share a portion of the resulting revenue through Amazon's Affiliate Program. For anyone familiar with Amazon's affiliate program, it takes a lot to actually make any money, but if the business person is dogged about going about it, he or she can make some bucks out of the program. So the lendee gets an e-book at a good price, and everyone's happy.
However MacDonald in Canada is hardly the first person to come up with the idea of the Kindle Lending Club. She was merely one of the first. Now there are many on the Web and not just for Kindles either. There are nook lending clubs popping up too. Kindles and nooks don't mix, thanks to incompatible software.Continued on the next page