E-book lending is a practice in which access to already-purchased downloads or online reads of e-books is made available on a time-limited basis to others. It works around the digital rights management built into online-store-published e-books by limiting access to a purchased e-book file to the borrower, resulting in loss of access to the file by the purchaser for the duration of the borrowing period.
E-book lending has become an increasing practice in the early 2010s for public libraries as well as independent e-book lending communities; the latter is increasingly viable, especially for books which are not available in the Amazon Kindle's Kindle Format, Mobipocket or Barnes & Noble Nook formats. Websites such as Lendle.me and BookLending.com have emerged to facilitate lending and borrowing of books between strangers. In a survey of interlibrary loan librarians it was found that 92% of libraries held ebooks in their collections and that 27% of those libraries had negotiated interlibrary loan rights for some of their ebooks. This survey found significant barriers to conducting interlibrary loan for ebooks. Demand-driven acquisition (DDA) has been around for a few years in public libraries, which allows vendors to streamline the acquisition process by offering to match a library's selection profile to the vendor's e-book titles. The library's catalog is then populated with records for all the e-books that match the profile. The decision to purchase the title is left to the patrons, although the library can set purchasing conditions such as a maximum price and purchasing caps so that the dedicated funds are spent according to the library's budget. The 2012 meeting of the Association of American University Presses included a panel on Patron-driven acquisition (PDA) of books produced by university presses based on a preliminary report by Joseph Esposito, a digital publishing consultant who has studied the implications of PDA with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
As of 2014, over 90% of U.S. public libraries offer ebook lending. Many of those libraries use OverDrive, which provides ebook access to about 26,000 libraries and schools in the U.S. Overdrive is the only lending service that works with the Amazon Kindle.
Some publishers have feared that making books available for loan may deter people from buying the books. However, ebook lending has the potential to increase the discoverability of books, encouraging readers to try out new authors and genres, resulting in increased purchases.
Alternative lending models
Amazon operates a Kindle Owners' Lending Library that enables paid Amazon Prime users to borrow from a collection of over 600,000 ebooks without any due date, with books being delivered to Kindle and Kindle Fire devices, but not to the free Kindle reading apps for other platforms. The same book can be borrowed by a number of users at the same time, and users may keep a book for as long as they want.
- Stu Woo (2011-03-11). "E-Book Lending Takes Off". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-05-09.
- Linda Frederiksen, Joel Cummings, Lara Cummings and Diane Carroll. “Ebooks and Interlibrary Loan.” Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery and Electronic Reserves. 21(31), 2011. 117-131. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1072303X.2011.585102#
- Becker, B. W. The e-Book Apocalypse: A Survivor's Guide. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian v. 30 no. 3 (July 2011) p. 181–4
- Steve Kolowich, "Affection for PDA," Inside Higher Ed June 20, 2012 http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/06/20/research-foresees-demand-driven-book-acquisition-replacing-librarians-discretion#ixzz1ycQKnfeo
- American Library Association: 90% of Libraries in U.S. Now Lend Ebooks. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- OverDrive Review: A Free E-Book Lending Service That Requires Some Patience. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- Adam Pash (30 December 2010). "You Can Now Lend Your Kindle Books to Friends for 14 Days". Lifehacker.
- "Amazon.com: Kindle Owners' Lending Library". Amazon. Retrieved 13 January 2015.