I had a nice long rant half-drafted, and then it got shot down.
Tuesday, Amazon removed API access for Lendle and several other Kindle book lending services. That killed these services as they rely on access to Amazon databases to facilitate sharing amongst users. Amazon said they removed access because the services did not aid Amazon in its primary mission: to sell things.
Fair enough. Amazon is a business and certainly has the right to deny access to their content to those they feel cut into their sales.
At the same time, though, when Amazon announced Kindle book lending in January, they touted it as a terrific benefit for Kindle owners, something that set the Kindle apart from the iPad and iBooks. Tuesday’s decision seemed petty and short-sighted. Frankly, it made me reconsider whether I wanted to continue as a Kindle owner or sell it and go back to checking out 40+ books from the library each year and buying only 5-10.
Fortunately, last night Amazon modified their stance, said only the syncing feature of Lendle, which allows users to upload their entire Kindle book list from Amazon, was problematic, and turned Lendle’s API access back on after the sync function was removed.
Lendle is using this as an opportunity to create a service that does not require access to Amazon’s database to operate. That’s smart. Rumor has it that people within Amazon are fans of the service and see it as a benefit to their company. In order to borrow on Lendle, you have to lend. The more you lend, the more requests for books you earn. You can’t just sign up and freeload. But companies like Amazon (and Apple) can be quick to defend their business, changing course when they feel threatened. Moving to a system that is independent of Amazon is the right way to grow Lendle. It makes users happy and should make Amazon happy.
After a brief moment of panic and disappointment, Lendle is up and running again. And owning a Kindle has gained another terrific bonus.