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Amazon Kindle now allows book sharing

Amazon's Kindle has been a runaway success for the company. Not only is it Amazon's best selling product of all time, it has even entered the mainstream with non-technology people either buying or strongly considering the device. One of the disadvantages of the Kindle compared to a standard book is the fact that once you're done reading, you can't share the experience by lending it to a friend. Amazon acknowledged this deficiency and has now enabled the ability to share ebooks with not only other Kindles, but with any device that has the Kindle software.

You share a book by going into the "Manage Your Kindle" section of their website, expand the details of the book, and click the "Loan this book" button. You will be prompted to enter the recipients email address before the process is complete. Your friend then receives an email with your offer and has seven days to accept it. Once accepted, the person has two weeks to read the book before it it automatically returned to the original owner. Like a real book, the original owner can not read the book while it has been lent to a friend.

Unfortunately, not all books will be lendable; Amazon has provided publishers the option of disabling this feature. In addition, even if a publisher allows their book to be shared it appears that it can only be lent out a single time before the feature is locked. This seems like an arbitrary limitation, but is probably included to prevent "Kindle book clubs" from forming online, something that could definitely eat into Amazon's sales.

Amazon's site also states that sharing of books can only be done through their website and not from the Kindle itself. It would be useful if two Kindle owners who are having lunch together could share books with each other right there, but with the proliferation of smart phones this is probably only a minor inconvenience to most.

Lastly, while Kindle owners can send books to non-US owners (again, if permitted by the publisher), non-US owners can't currently lend books to anyone. This was most likely another concession that Amazon had to make with the publishers to allow this feature to be enabled.

Lending ebooks is definitely a step in the right direction and this extra flexibility is sure to improve Kindle sales. Has this additional feature convinced you to purchase a Kindle, or are you still happy with traditional books?

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