Inside the NOOK’s LendMe feature

Inside the NOOK’s LendMe feature

Barnes & Noble has been doing a lot to promote their EBR (E-Book Reader) the NOOK (sic) lately.

I’m sure there are a lot of happy NOOK owners out there.

The Kindle (six inch) and the NOOK are direct competitors.  They both have a six inch VizPlex E Ink screen, they both use wireless to download books, and they both cost $259. 

For a more detailed comparison, see this earlier post.

The feature I hear mentioned the most as something that the NOOK has and the Kindle doesn’t is the ability to lend books.

I’ve seen people say that’s why they considered (or even bought) the NOOK over the Kindle.

While it is undeniably a nice feature, and yes, I think Kindleers would use it sometimes if we had it, I do think it merits some explanation. 

In a sense, the balancing feature is the text-to-speech (“read aloud”) on the Kindle.  I think both features are great for some people (I’ve listened to TTS for hours), but can be easily overestimated before actually being used.  Oh, and I would figure that the LendMe has been used more successfully as a promotional tool than TTS…at least, since four of the Big Six US trade publishers started blocking the latter.

What are the basics?

You go to a book in your nook’s library.  You tap a button that says Lend.   You then enter (or select someone you have previously entered) someone’s e-mail address. You can add a personal message (which is nice…you can let them know why you think they would like the book).  You tap Send and Confirm.

Your friend gets a message in their e-mail (or in the Daily on their NOOK).  They have seven days to respond.  They then have fourteen days to read the book.  During that time, it is unavailable to you on your NOOK…which, of course, mimics a paperbook.

That’s it…sounds cool, right?  I’d probably use it with a sibling who isn’t on my account, from time to time.


There are a couple of key limitations:

1. You can only lend a given book once…ever.  Not once per person, but once altogether.  If you get the latest Janet Evanovich, you can lend it to your Mom or your sister, but not to both.  That’s even after the book is automatically “returned” after fourteen days

2. The lending is a fourteen day period, period.  😉  If the other person gets done in three days, you still can’t get it back.  If fourteen days go by and they haven’t had a chance to finish, tough. 

3. You can’t give the book away or sell it…just lend it.  That’s probably clear from the LendMe name, but I think it’s worth mentioning.  You can’t give away or sell Kindle books either, of course (assuming they have Digital Rights Management…not all do, apparently)

4. You can only do this if the publisher allow it

I want to get more in-depth on this last point, because it is an important one.

Just as publishers have blocked text-to-speech access on many Kindle store books, publishers have “disallowed” LendMe on many Barnes & Noble e-books.

Here’s a breakdown on a few categories:

Category All LendMe %
Fiction 34278 11531 34%
SF&F 3766 1536 41%
Classics 2158 1225 57%
Nonfiction 16165 4836 30%


Category All LendMe %
Fiction 34278 11531 34%
Nonfiction 16165 4836 30%
  50443 16367 32%

There are some interesting points in these numbers.

It looks like about a third of the books have these feature available.

That number is much higher for classics…it kind of surprises me that it isn’t 100%, but the LendMe calls it Fiction and Literature Classics, so maybe it isn’t a one-to-one comparison.

Why is that a surprise?

If the books are in the public domain (not under copyright protection) you can give the whole book to somebody…for free.

You just go to one of the sites where you can get them for free, then send it to your friend as an attachment to an e-mail. 

For more information on some of those sites, see the Focus on Free category.

So, is the LendMe feature a reason to consider the NOOK over the Kindle?  Sure, it may be very valuable in some specific circumstances.  There are 58,599 LendMe books right now, and that’s a lot of books.  However, it’s worth considering the limitations before making that decision.

On balance, I prefer the Kindle.  The text-to-speech has been more useful to than I think the LendMe would be.  But that may not be the case for you.

Oh, one other thing to consider.  With both the Kindle and Barnes & Noble, more than one person can read a book on your account without loaning it…even read it at the same time.  If we couldn’t do that, LendMe would be a lot more attractive to me.  However, since my Signficant Other and offspring and I can all read the same book for one purchase price, that works quite well for us. 

I don’t poll NOOK users specifically very much, but this next poll is just for them.

One last thing…Barnes & Noble seems to have replaced its original “all small” capitalization of the “nook” with an all caps version, “NOOK”.  Um…what’s wrong with “Nook”?  Is there some trademark issue?  It just bugs me…

Tip of the Day: Personal documents you have Amazon convert for your Kindle do not contain DRM (Digital Rights Management).  You can copy the file and send it to your friends who have Kindles, and they can put it into their Kindle’s documents folder and read it.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


One Response to “Inside the NOOK’s LendMe feature”

  1. Saturday Sound Off – January 15, 2011 « Book Chat « Says:

    […] books are available depend upon publisher restrictions. Currently Barnes & Nobles has about 30% of its ebook stock, which includes public domain free books, as lendable. I have yet to see a […]

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