Friday, April 8, 2011

Interested in borrowing an ebook? Check our comparison of BookLending and eBookFling

As ebook lending becomes a growing trend, we see more websites that fulfill the role of marketplace, matching ebook lenders and borrowers.

But who are these websites? And what they offer those of you who want to take advantage of the feature allowing Kindle and Nook users to swap ebooks with each others? We decided to provide you with a comparison of the three websites that seems to lead the ebook lending market - eBookFling, BookLending and Lendle.

At least that was our initial intention. We contacted the owners of these 3 websites and asked them to answer couple of questions, but only Catherine MacDonald of BookLending and George Burke of eBookFling got back to us. Although we wrote couple of times to Jeff Croft of Lendle, we didn't hear back from him. Therefore it's going to be a comparison between BookLending and eBookFling.

We hope you will find it useful and if
you have any information or experiences with one of these websites you would like to add, feel free to add a comment!

First, a short video from each of the two websites and then a comparison between the two:

1. Who created the website?
BookLending (BL): Catherine MacDonald
eBookFling (EF): BookSwim

2. Lending Length
BL: 14 days
EF: 14 days

3. Where you're located?
BL: We are Canadians who are currently traveling abroad
EF: New Jersey

4. How many users you have? Are you serving also non-US users?
BL: We have over 19,000 users and we do serve non-US users.
EF: We crossed the 10,000 user mark in less than a week after launching. We've been growing steadily. These are all US-based members with plans to expand as soon as Amazon/B&N open up lending overseas.

5. Is it only available to both Kindle and Nook users?
BL: Yes, only Kindle users.
EF: Available to both Kindle and Nook users

6. Is it a free service?
BL: Yes. You don't need to pay anything to borrow ebooks, no matter if you make e-books available for loan or not.
EF: Yes, but only if other users borrow books from you. You get one credit point for every book you lend which can be used to borrow another ebook. But if you don't earn credit points (i.e. no one wants to borrow your books..), you will need buy credits for $1.99 per credit.

7. Do you need to loan books to others to be able to borrow?
BL: No. There's no such requirement.
EF: No, but then you'll need to pay $1.99 for every ebook you want to borrow.

8. What's your best user-friendly feature?
BL: Members love our Browse by Genre and "Read It Today" features.
EF: allows members to manage notifications on books in their wishlist so they're not inundated with "this book is now available" emails for books they're not yet ready to read. Similarly, we send out loan requests one at a time, rather than blast all lenders every time someone asks to borrow a book.

9. How many people operate your business?
BL: Right now, we have a core group of two plus our wonderful development team.
EF: 4 of BookSwim's team initially founded the service and we're expanding. We just hired a social media manager and are on the lookout for an ad-sales person.

10. What Is your business model?
Commission and display advertising based.
EF: Revenue from credits, commission on ebook sales and in the future selling ad space and providing other services (acting as marketing tool for authors and publishers for example)

11. In one sentence - What differentiate you from the other websites?
BL: We're not just a free, fair and easy-to-use platform, but also a community of Kindle book enthusiasts.
EF: A. We manage the entire lend process by masking a book requester's email address which keeps the privacy of all our members while also allowing us to track when a book has been successfully delivered and reaching out to others if the loan never came through. B. Our use of credits as a swapping currency ensures that there is never any deficit of available books to borrow. C. As far as I'm aware, is the only service with Nook and Kindle titles, allowing for more availability of books.

For more information visit eBookFling at and BookLending at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!


Brandon said...

Lendle has an FAQ.

Brian Ford said...

Hi there. It looks as though we somehow missed your emails. Probably the best way to get in touch with us is through our contact form. (We've looked and don't seem to see anything. They may have slipped through the cracks as the last few weeks have been a flood of emails from media outlets wanting to talk with us.) Anyway, sorry we missed it.

All of these services are pretty much the same: We're all hamstrung to a certain degree by the same restrictions on lending and we're all pulling our content from the same basic limited selection of lendable books, etc. (I realize that ebookfling is catering to Nook users, too -- which we think is great.)

As for Lendle, we're not really based in one location. We've got two people in Kansas (two different suburbs of Kansas City) and one in Seattle.

My wife Carolyn (she's a Library Sciences major) came up with the idea and it was implemented by Jeff Croft and myself with a lot of help from Kent Croft.

We're a pretty lean team.

Lending and borrowing is free but we definitely have a system which requires our members to loan if they want to borrow. We credit our success with lending books in a timely fashion to our decision to operate with that restriction.

We think everything about Lendle is based in solid design principles in order to provide a user-friendly experience, rather than being built around a user-friendly feature, or two. If I had to pick just one thing, though, our book detail pages are pretty great and provide a ridiculous amount of useful information.

(I will say that ebookfling's email setup is pretty swank as well. We'll have to consider whether the cost is worth implementing something similar.)

We're essentially right with our competitors when it comes to users, but to be frank, it's an uninteresting statistic. Growth is always good (and our recent exposure has pretty much set us up when it comes to accelerated growth) but I would guess we're all offering the same books, with less than 1% variation. What little variation does exist is probably all at the "no one is requesting those books anyway" end of the spectrum.

Whether you have 19,000 users or 25,000 users, the question becomes: In most cases, are people getting the books they're requesting, in a timely fashion? Users aren't interested in statistics about users, they want to know if they're getting books, or waiting too long to get them.

Our design choices and our model are designed to make sure that happens. The reason we don't offer Lendle to non-US members isn't because we don't want to, it's because you can only cater half of your service to them. They literally cannot lend books.

So, that means our user-base would grow exponentially, but would be completely lopsided in favor of people who are only borrowing. We're not interested enough in being able to claim a larger total number to hurt our existing users that way.

As soon as Amazon expands their service, you can bet Lendle will too.

We've got some pretty exciting plans for the near future, as well, so we think we're in a pretty great position.

Anyway. Again, we're sorry we missed your initial emails.