I’m leaving the comments turned off on this one because frankly I don’t want to spend the rest of a beautiful Sunday moderating a stream of increasingly furious messages, most of which have nothing to do with this piece. If you’re so minded the links below will give you plenty of places to express your opinion.
As the headline says… is anybody out there not angry about something in the world of digital books? There’s an incredibly furious argument going on right now about the closure of a site called Lendink. A stream of authors, most of them self publishing as far as I can see, turned on Lendink when they saw their works listed there for lending. Some of them accused the site — wrongly — of piracy. And an irate Twitter stream followed, some of which you can see here LendInk taken down by asshole indie authors.
Here’s one of the authors who went for Lendink putting forward her case, LendInk: why I was angry, and why I am sorry.
For a pro-Lendink argument you should read LendInk taken down by asshole indie authors by a blogger whose position is summarised in another post, ‘Proving My Point: Copyright is shit’. The same chap is selling a tee-shirt backing Lendink – yours for a bargain $7. You can also read Disabled military veteran’s eBook lending site shuttered by TwitMob. No. I’m not sure what the relevance of ’disabled military veteran’ is here either.
In between the yelling here’s what this is about. Both Kindle and Barnes & Noble allow the legal lending of ebooks. This was originally designed to be a way ebook titles could be shared between people who know each other. But the net never misses an opportunity, does it? Quite a few sites, not just Lendink, then came up with the idea of putting complete strangers together so they could swap ebooks rather than buy them.
Nothing illegal even if it’s not what the original lending idea was meant for. And yes, these ebook matchmaking sites usually hope to make a bit along the way by getting a cut of any ebook sales that go through their links (though since this is primarily about avoiding buying things you wonder if there’s much money to be made there).
Two things strike me about this furore. Aren’t people angry in this closed little world? I mean, not just grumpy. But spitting, cursing, fist-flying furious. Is it because the bright sparks who come up with schemes like Lendink somehow always try to portray themselves as an author’s friend (which is a stretch frankly)? I don’t know. But if you’re inside this fire storm please get out. It’s not a state of mind in which to write.
Second, the books being loaned through these kinds of scheme are often at the 99 cent end of the price scale. So people are going through all this hassle to save themselves pennies and get a dirt cheap book for free. Which rather kills the old and utterly unbelievable argument that everyone would behave impeccably when it comes to acquiring digital books if only the price came down.
Great, eh? Does any of this sound in the least bit sustainable for anyone?