‘Never a borrower or a lender be…’


Free borrows.

Is that so bad?

Hard hours spent conceiving well-reviewed work which is then listed on sites offering readers a chance to connect socially and swap said titles?

Below are just some of the sites that offer books by many mainstream and indie writers. (I debated long and hard about making the sites live and decided that if you, the reader, want to avail yourself of them, you are quite able to find them readily by copying and pasting into your browser)






Possibly not. It seems they operate legitimately via a writer’s connection with Amazon’s and B&N’s publishing process. if a writer opts for the 70% royalty payment in Amazon, one is automatically allowing one’s books to be borrowed (for which I might add, one is paid a small royalty by Amazon. Me? I’ve hardly had any borrows in the 18 months I’ve been with Amazon)

Below is one comment on the social media today from an independent writer about the services the sites offer and their potential impact:

“Amazon can do nothing about it without tightening how lending works on the devices. They (the lending sites) are just sites acting socially bringing people together. I see it as no biggie – do you honestly think there are a queue of people on ‘these sites’ with our books, and, more importantly, a queue of people willing to loan them (Bearing in mind the lending limit is capped)? I doubt it.”

Is it akin to piracy?

Again, a moot point, but most moderators of the sites claim they are social networks putting readers together to share books.

Neil Gaiman made the following comment about the potential benefits of piracy:

“It’s people lending books. You can’t look at that as a lost sale. No one that wouldn’t have bought your book is not buying it… what you are doing is advertising.”

The average indie and maybe even for the midlist mainstream writer might feel it is effectively reducing potential income for those writers. Then again, using Neil Gaiman’s measure, we supposedly make up for it with free advertising, increased readership and potential sales for further books. And given that i would never be able to afford such advertising, perhaps it is a beneficial thing.

Also, one might assume that each time a writer offers a FREE promotion on Amazon’s KDP Select that they are in fact allowing a type of lending process to widen, the only difference between it and free borrowing is that the KDP Select process of downloads happens under the legitimate auspices of the Amazon banner, helping to drive sales of other titles up over a period of time. The sale to end all sales, if you like.

But back to the free lending: haven’t we all done it in many ways with print books all of our lives amongst friends and family?

You are the reader. I bet you have. I know I have!