New free way to virtually lend e-books

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So often on an airplane, I’ll watch someone who is reading a paperback finish their book and leave it in the seat back pocket for another passenger to read. It’s been like a system of informal library lending in the sky over the years. 

But now that we’ve entered the era of the e-book, well, nobody leaves their Kindle or Nook behind, right? So how do you lend those books to other people?

Enter eBookFling.com, a virtual lending library. If you have books on your Kindle or Nook, you can list them for lending on this free service and earn credits as others borrow them. Borrowers get a 2-week use of that book and you can redeem your credits to borrow e-books from other people. (All books are circulated by e-mail.)

A system like eBookFling.com gives you the chance to share what you’ve got with absolute strangers. The service is also compatible with Macs and PCs, as well as iPhone, Android and Blackberry smartphones.

This whole discussion goes to the heart of digital-rights management (DRM) and the question of who owns digital downloads of books, music and movies. I think it’s at the core of why in the music industry it became so much a part of the culture to steal vs. buy music. When the music was stolen, you could transfer it from this device to that device with no problem. But when you legitimately purchased that same music, you had all kinds of DRM restrictions on what you can do with that download.

Will eBookFling.com offer a viable model for the future? Who knows! But I like the idea for now.



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