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How to Rent or Borrow eBooks Online

By Ryan Knight

books shelfThe Kindle and Nook eReaders have led the attack on a long history of domination by paper books. Readers have thoroughly enjoyed the convenience of eReaders, and have given up a few tactile experiences in order to embrace this new technology.

Despite the growth of eReaders, borrowing and lending eBooks have not experienced the same evolution.

Luckily for bookworms on a budget, a few websites have started to become popular, making it easier for readers to rent, lend, and borrow eBooks.

How Does Renting eBooks Work?

Renting and borrowing eBooks has become more popular, but some publishers enforce eBook lending restrictions. Borrowers must find lenders willing to lend books for free, or for a small charge.

It can be difficult to find a friend with the book you want to borrow. Many websites make renting eBooks easy, however, by allowing people to borrow eBooks online from other owners. Once you find someone with a book you want to borrow, the lender must visit Amazon.com for Kindle books, or BarnesandNoble.com for Nooks, and select the book from the list of eBooks they own.¬†After selecting the book, the lender enters your email address, indicating you are the borrower, and “sends” the book to you.

You then receive the eBook in your eBook library and have access to the Kindle or Nook for 14 days from the time of acceptance. When you borrow an eBook, the original owner cannot view it until you have returned the book. After 14 days the book is automatically removed from your eReader, and the original owner regains access to the eBook. Due to current publisher restrictions, once a book has been borrowed, the owner cannot lend the eBook to anyone else.

amazon loan book

While the new technology offers many advantages, there are also some disadvantages to renting eBooks.

Advantages

People who don’t need a hard copy of a book, or who don’t typically re-read books can benefit from renting eBooks.

Some of the advantages include:

  1. Free or Low Cost. You can rent eBooks for free or for a few dollars.
  2. More Variety. You can try many books you may not have otherwise read.
  3. Ease of Download. Easily download eBooks from the comfort of your home, using your computer.
  4. Automatic Returns. Rentals are automatically returned to the book owner.

Disadvantages

As with many new technologies, there are some barriers that prevent renting eBooks from gaining widespread popularity. For example, publishers often seem unwilling to develop and promote the new technology. However, as more people engage in renting eBooks, borrowers hope that more publishers will embrace lending and borrowing eBooks.

Some disadvantages of renting eBooks include:

  1. Renting Restrictions. Current restrictions only allow rentals for 14 days, and lenders can only rent a purchased book once.
  2. Unavailable eBooks. Some eBooks cannot be rented due to publisher restrictions. Only three of the current top 10 bestsellers can be rented.
  3. Cumbersome Process. Renting is a cumbersome process. Lenders must advertise when they have a book available, and they must sign on to a website each time they lend a book.
  4. Waiting Period. After requesting books, borrowers must wait until lenders send them the books. This may take several days.
  5. Privacy Concerns. Booklending.com and Lendle.me share email addresses with other users during the eBook lending process. eBookFling creates a custom email address during each transaction, which prevents other users from seeing your email.

Top eBook Lending Sites

The three leading eBook lending websites help prospective borrowers find eBooks to borrow. The cost to rent eBooks from these websites ranges from free to $2.99 per book.

ebookfling1. eBook Fling

  • Earn a free rental by lending one of your eBooks
  • Pay anywhere from $1.49 (for bulk orders) to $2.99 for rental credits
  • Instant downloads of most available eBooks
  • Works with Kindle and Nook eReaders

lendle logo2. Lendle.me

  • Earn rentals or credits (redeemable for an Amazon gift card after reaching $10) by lending one of your eBooks
  • Service is free, but requires you to lend books to gain borrowing credit
  • No ability to purchase credits
  • Works with the Amazon Kindle eReader

booklending logo3. BookLending.com

  • Free to rent eBooks
  • No ability to purchase credits
  • Works with Kindle eReader

In addition to the ability to rent eBooks from the above websites, many libraries offer book rentals. A service called OverDrive guides you to your local public library and allows you to check out books on your eReader. This is a relatively new service, and not all libraries are connected. Check Overdrive.com and your library’s website, to see if eBook rentals are available at your library.

Final Word

You can get the most value out of your eReader by renting eBooks. Due to publisher restrictions, renting eBooks has some disadvantages, but as users begin to take advantage of the technology, renting may become easier and more widely accessible.

Check out one of the sites listed here to get started. eBook Fling offers free rentals for members willing to lend their eBooks to others, and offers paid rentals for people who want to check out something new. You may not find every book you want to read, but you can borrow a wide selection of books from these websites.

Have you ever rented an eBook online? What was the experience like, and what are the biggest inconveniences in the process?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Ryan Knight
Ryan is a business analyst in Atlanta, GA and proud supporter of Georgia Tech. He enjoys blogging as a way to share with others ideas about finding time, saving money, and having fun. He regularly contributes to ObsessedAnalytic and MoneyCrashers and has been featured on ChristianPF and RedeemingRiches. In his free time, Ryan enjoys playing and watching sports including running, soccer, football, and disc golf. Follow him on his twitter account: ramblinknight.

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  • Fakeemail

    Very helpful article. And what BS on the publisher’s behalf! Protecting their content from copyright is one thing, but digitally controlling the lending of books that customers have paid damn good money to have rights to is way out of line. As long as the work is not being reproduced after purchase, it’s none of their business. I’ve already begun going back to paperback… Its cheaper and I can lend and borrow as I please.

  • Michelle

    Fakeemail i feel that way too! I have a kindle, but can’t afford all of these books at a premium price! I use overdrive, but the wait for a book can take months & most books are unavailable, not even talking about bestsellers here. Why does the public library only borrow one digital copy at a time. They have more copies of the same book at the actual library.

  • Jade

    The problem with pulic libraries and digital nooks is that some books can take a long time to be digitized. Demand is overwhelming. Some paperbacks at public libraries are in awful condition. Amazon has some great cheap books and prices there are falling daily. I have read more in 2 months than I have in 2 years.

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