To date, and it’s been said time and again, the biggest difference between digital content and physical content is that digital content isn’t communal content. You can’t lend someone a digital book, or pass a digital magazine on to your doctor’s office or the senior citizens home. You can’t lend someone your CD or DVD – though these last two are technically of the digital age. But now, none other than Amazon is trying to bridge the gap between these two types of content. However, it’s just a teeny-tiny bridge. The company recently launched a Kindle lending program that allows book owners to “lend” e-books. Just once. For a limited time. And only books that were approved by the publisher. While the book is on loan to someone else, the original owner would not have access to it. After the 14 day loan period has expired, that same borrower may be a lender of another book, but can never again be a borrower of the same book.
Even as the Amazon lending program gets underway, there are already movements to go bigger with the concept of lending e-books. The Kindle Lending Club is a startup with the big idea of lending books between strangers – or Facebook only friends. Someone in Silicon Valley could lend a business book to someone in Malta. The potential for expansion is beyond the sum of Kindle owners. Those who own other e-readers can download Kindle’s free app for reading Kindle books. Along with this trend, experts predict a future with digital book libraries where the content can be loaned out just like the physical content. And just for the record, Barnes & Noble Nook is no slouch either. They also have a lending program, plus you can bring your Nook to the book store and read without buying, for an hour each day.
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