eBooks, Kindles, and BookLending.com

For the record, I absolutely love to read books and I am a huge gadget nerd. Long before we had iPads, iPhones, or Kindles, I was the proud owner of not one but two separate Microsoft Windows Pocket PC devices. The first one, purchased in 2000, was a Philips Nino 500 and the second one was a Compaq iPaq H4150, which I continued to use until about a year ago. These were similar to an iPhone in that you could store contacts, email, calendar items, as well as load applications to perform other tasks. The difference was that you had to dock them to your computer to keep them up-to-date.

One of the first applications that I loaded on my Philips Nino was an eBook reader from Peanut Press (which was later renamed eReader and then subsequently bought by Fictionwise). Many people asked how I could read a book on such a small screen but the convenience of always having one or more books with me to read was the important thing for me. Over the next 10 years, I purchased over 22 different books for the eReader application. I know that I could have picked those books up from the library for free but I was willing to pay to have them in electronic form.

About a year ago, my work laptop was replaced with an iPad. I downloaded the free Kindle app and switched over to reading my eBooks on the iPad. A few months ago, I upgraded my cellphone to an iPhone and now I can read my Kindle books on either device. I love the Kindle app and I love that can switch between the devices and pick up where I left off on either device. What I don’t love, however, is the cost of having to buy the books. When I first started reading eBooks the selection was limited but I could get many books for about $5 a piece. I realize that Kindle books are cheaper than their paper and ink counterparts but they are about double that.

Two new services have come into being recently that have solved my eBook buying problems. The first is OverDrive. OverDrive is a digital distribution platform for eBooks and audiobooks. The local public libraries (and school libraries) use OverDrive to allow you to borrow the Kindle version of book for up to two weeks. The only drawback to OverDrive is that the local libraries don’t have very many digital copies of popular books. You can put an eBook on hold via OverDrive and check it out when it becomes available but that can sometimes take weeks. I’ve found that if I keep several books in my on-hold queue at a time, one is usually coming available about the time I am finishing up the last book.

The other solution to the purchasing problem is that Amazon is now allowing you to loan your already purchased Kindle books to another Kindle user for a two week period. When I saw this, I thought that this was really cool but I don’t know many other Kindle users or what books they have. That’s where BookLending.com comes in. You can create a profile on that site and list the books that you have available to lend and the ones that you would like to borrow. The site matches you up with other Kindle users that have or need your books. Its only shortcoming is that there aren’t a lot of users yet so the selection of books to exchange is still quite limited.

All in all, both of these services are really helping to keep my eBook buying expenses down. I’m still going to purchase eBooks from time to time. But now I’m going to purchase the ones that I really want to keep.

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