Update: March 23, 2011. After some email communications, Amazon did restore Lendle’s access to the Amazon API. Amazon agreed to the action if Lendle would disable the functionality of the Lendle Book Sync tool which syncs a user’s Kindle books with their Lendle account. In this Lendle blog posting, Lendle discusses the reinstatement as well as its new-found realization that it needs to be less reliant on third-party APIs.
Lendle co-founder Jeff Croft may have been surprised by today’s revocation of Lendle’s access to Amazon’s API– but I wasn’t surprised. I was only surprised that Amazon allowed Lendle and other book lending sites to operate for the few months they were in existence.
Some Background on the Book Swapping Sites
Ebook lending sites like Lendle.me and Booklending.com take advantage of the lending functionality offered by Kindle and Nook. Instead of being restricted to lending your ebook for two weeks to your friends and family, these book-swapping sites bring together strangers with ebooks to lend and give you thousands of potential ebook lenders and borrowers. Lendle and other book-sharing sites rely heavily on Amazon’s API (application programming interface)
What’s the Lesson
A Hard Lesson for Lendle to Grasp
On the Lendle blog, co-founder Croft talked about how the Lendle site could be re-formatted and go back into business by eliminating reliance on the Amazon APIs. Croft later expanded in comments to msnbc.com that Lendle could rely instead on information submitted by users (i.e., a user would have to type in the book title rather than Lendle importing that information from Amazon).
What Lendle doesn’t seem to be processing is that third party app developers need some cooperation from the platforms for which they build and Amazon dislikes Lendle’s business model. I doubt Lendle will successfully circumvent Amazon. I can certainly visualize a few changes to the Kindle user agreement or technical changes to the Kindle user interface that could effectively kill a Lendle re-formatted for reliance on customer data input.
And need I mention the breadth of Amazon’s resources in the event this turns into a legal fight?