Lendle has added an interesting new feature to its service today: the ability for users to earn a little money when they lend their e-books via the site.Kindle e-book lending service
Most users will be credited $.50 for every e-book lent, and patrons - those who've supported the site with a one-time $25 donation - will get $1.00 for every e-book lent. Every time users rack up $10 in credits, they'll receive a $10 Amazon gift card.
According to the blog post announcing the new feature, Lendle co-founder Brian Ford says that the idea of rewarding users for lending books has always been something that the startup has wanted to do. "We believed then and we believe now that this is the way a service like Lendle should operate." After all, you can only lend a Kindle e-book once, and so Lendle and the other similar e-book lending services like BookLending.com have depended on the altruism of their users in order to grant that one-time loan to a complete stranger.
Lendle does make this announcement with a couple of caveats noting that its ability to run this rewards program largely depends on the success of its Patron program. In other words, if it doesn't bring in the revenue to cover the costs, then it might have to scrap the feature.
Lendle also notes that if Amazon changes its lending policies, say allowing users to lend books more than once, then it may also have to re-evaluate the pay-to-lend program.
The Seattle-based startup has already had a run-in with Amazon over e-book lending. In March, Amazon yanked Lendle's access to its API as the site had violated the Terms of Service by pulling Kindle users' full library into the app in order to pre-populate the system with books that could be available to loan. After addressing that issue, Lendle had its access reinstated.
I asked Lendle's other co-founder Jeff Croft if he was concerned that this latest feature could again attract Amazon's ire, but he seemed confident, having reviewed the Kindle licensing agreements, that that wouldn't happen.
"We are confident we're not in violation in any way. We're definitely not taking any money out of their pockets - in fact, we expect this feature to encourage book buying more so than any lending site, including Lendle, has in the past.
We've always believed this is the way a lending service ought to work. We're asking folks to use their one-time license to lend their Kindle book on a stranger instead of on one of their friends. We think, if someone is generous enough to do that, they deserve to share some of Lendle's profits."
Of course, as great as this new feature might sound, it's still disappointing how very few Kindle titles are actually available to lend. Perhaps by encouraging more people to do so and then rewarding them with Amazon gift cards, more publishers will actually start to make their titles available to loan. Perhaps.