Detailed on CNET earlier today, e-book lending site LendInk was under attack earlier this month after a large group of e-book authors mistook the site for a distributor of pirated material. Operated by a disabled war veteran named Dale Porter, LendInk was a social network where Kindle and Nook owners could legitimately lend a copy of their legally purchased e-book to another e-reader owner. For instance, Amazon allows Kindle owners to lend an e-book to another Kindle owner one time and the e-book is active for a period of 14 days. Conceptually, it’s designed to bring more exposure to the works of authors and entice someone to purchase the e-book if they don’t finish it within the two week trial period. The book can also be read on other platforms such as an iPhone, Android tablet or laptop computer.
Similar to Lendle.me, Reddit’s KindleLend or LendingBook.com, LendInk acts as an intermediary between Kindle owners across the world. Users can list the books that they are authorized by Amazon to lend and LendInk provides an email system to facilitate communication between users. Amazon’s terms don’t limit the geographic location or distance between two people lending e-books.
In addition, all books listed on the site were already authorized to be shared by the author. When an author lists an e-book on Amazon, the terms and conditions state that the author is opting into Kindle Lending program partly to get the 70 percent royalty rate. Otherwise, the author is downgraded to a 35 percent royalty rate in order to opt out of the Kindle Lending program.
Mentioned on Good E-reader, an unnamed author stated “I noticed my work there and sent the site a Cease and Desist Notice, giving them 48 hours to remove my work or face prosecution. They were in breech of copyright and deserved to be shut down. Am I proud they have been shut down? Am I proud to have stood up for my legal rights as author? You betcha!” Using Twitter and other forms of social media, authors quickly mobilized without researching the site’s actual function and overwhelmed LendInk’s hosting company with threats in an attempt to take down the site.According to an interview on The Digital Machine, Porter stated “The hosting company has offered to reinstate Lendink.com on the condition that I personally respond to all of the complaints individually. I have to say, I really do not know if it is worth the effort at this point. I have read the comments many of these people have posted and I don’t think any form of communication will resolve the issues in their eyes. Most are only interested in getting money from me and others are only in in for the kill. They have no intentions of talking to me or working this out.”
According to Porter, he was previously an Amazon affiliate when he purchased LendInk and was making money off users that would purchase Amazon products. Due to the tax dispute in California last year, Amazon dropped LendInk as an affiliate. While Porter could have signed back up after the tax issue was resolved late last year, he has been neglecting the site due to health issues over the past several months. However, Porter continued to refer users to Amazon to purchase books that weren’t available for lending.
Perhaps most ironically, the authors that banded together to take down LendInk will now lose out on free promotion and increased e-book sales of their works among a community of approximately 15,000 users. For instance, LendingBook was responsible for approximately $40,000 in revenue of book sales from users that purchased e-books through Amazon or Barnes & Noble during 2011.