I have successfully lent a Kindle book!

A friend of mine in Minneapolis recently purchased a used Kindle. We share many tastes in romance and speculative fiction, so we decided to give the lending function a try. We went through our respective lists of e-books and compared what we had. It was a little amusing to see that we had several of the same books already.

The major flaw of Kindles, as most people know, is that they use a proprietary format for e-books, and only allow sharing on a limited basis. However, when a Kindle is what you have, even the limited sharing can be useful. (I have a Kindle rather than a Nook or other reader because I received Amazon gift certificates, which made it much cheaper for me.)

Here’s the basic information on lending from Amazon’s website: “Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days. The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. Not all books are lendable — it is up to the publisher or rights holder to determine which titles are eligible for lending. The lender will not be able to read the book during the loan period.”

As it turned out, several of the books I would have liked to lend her were from publishers who did not allow lending. However, eventually we decided on a book by an author my friend had read before, with mixed results–in other words, a book she likely wouldn’t have bought for herself, but wouldn’t mind trying. Incidentally, the book was from an electronic-only publisher that specialized in romance.

Once we’d found a lendable book she wanted to read, the rest was very easy. She emailed me the address she uses for her Kindle. I went into “Manage Your Kindle,” found the book, and from its action menu chose “lend this book.” A window opened where I could enter her Kindle’s address. I sent the book, and it was done!

Two weeks later, I got a message stating the book had been “returned” to me. Easy. It’s not such a great feature I’d recommend Kindle over other e-readers, but if you already have one, it’s useful.