Amazon stymies Lendle e-book lending service

Lendle, one of several new e-book lending services, has had its API access revoked by Amazon, rendering its site mostly useless.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read
Lendle was forced to shut down after Amazon revoked its API access. Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

It may be game, set, and match for Lendle. No, not Ivan Lendl, the former tennis great. Lendle, the newly hatched e-book lending service.

Lendle first reported the news via Twitter: "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...According to Amazon, Lendle does not 'serve the principal purpose of driving sales of products and services on the Amazon site.'"

Reached by CNET, Lendle co-founder Jeff Croft, who's based in Seattle, had this to say:

They [Amazon] shut the API access off, and without it, our site is mostly useless. So, we went ahead and pulled it down. Could we build a lending site without their API? Yes. But it wouldn't be the quality of product we expect from ourselves.

How does e-book lending work? Well, while publishers only choose to make certain e-books lending-enabled, plenty of e-books are available to loan out on a very restricted basis, with both Amazon and Barnes & Noble now supporting e-book lending. If you own a lendable e-book (they're labeled as such), you can loan it to one person, one time, for 14 days.

Lendle is not the only e-book lending site that has come online in recent weeks. Last week, eBook Fling went live and BookLending has been operating for several weeks. The sites all work in much the same way, each offering free membership into their respective lending "clubs." In the case of eBook Fling, which hasn't shut down yet, you sign up and list the titles you have available for lending, then wait for requests to come in. You lend an e-book by simply sending an e-mail invite to the requesting borrower and in return, you earn credits for each "successful fling."

Lendle's Croft says that no legal action was threatened. Amazon simply revoked Lendle's access to the API, which cut Lendle off from Amazon's database infrastructure. Croft has been trying to get in touch with Amazon to see what--if any--changes he could could make to his service that might meet Amazon's approval, but he's yet to hear back.

He notes that at least two other Kindle lending services got the same message today. "They may not be reacting as fast as us, or they may be a bit more defiant," Croft said. "I can't speak on their behalf. But we've been in touch with their owners, so I do know they got the same message."

It's unclear at this point whether those other sites were using Amazon's API--or how dependent they were on it--so we'll wait and see whether they have trouble continuing to operate. Currently, Barnes & Noble doesn't have an API, so eBook Fling, which also offers swap lending of Nookbooks, may not be affected on that side of its service.