LendInk: A Post Mortem

The totally legitimate, legal ebook lend exchange site, LendInk, is dead, and the cause of death was murder. Yet the mob still isn’t satisfied; LendInk’s owner has reported he, members of his family, and his former web host have all received numerous threats, even AFTER his site was taken down.

No matter how many times, nor how clearly anyone tries to explain how Amazon’s and B&N’s lending programs work, the ill-informed hysterics continue to insist LendInk was doing something illegal, and it was justifiably destroyed. These authors obviously have not read, or else don’t understand, the Terms and Conditions to which they agreed when they opted their books in for lending. Some are now saying it’s unreasonable for Amazon and B&N to expect them to have read those terms, or to make sure they understood the terms before agreeing to them. They are wrong.

Many of the others who are on the wrong side of this argument are attempting damage control, rather than simply owning up and apologizing. They’re fixating on some small detail that they feel still entitles them to feel righteous in their actions, instead of acknowledging that they’ve done a terrible thing.

Some say it’s LendInk’s own fault authors didn’t understand the LendInk business model, because LendInk didn’t make any effort beyond its FAQ to explain its service to authors, like placing a detailed explanation on its home page. This is a bad argument for two reasons. First, since LendInk was a site geared to readers, not authors, it had no obligation to plaster its home page with legalese intended to inform and pacify authors. Second, those who make this argument obviously haven’t read the FAQ; if they had, they would see the site’s business model and legality were very clearly explained there.

Some say that since not every book listed on LendInk was actually available to lend, that some were listed as Amazon affiliate ‘buy’ links, the site was pulling a Bait-and-Switch and deserved to be shut down for that reason. It is for site users, not authors, to decide whether or not they had a problem with this. Considering that the site had 15k+ registered users at the time it was shut down, it would appear they did not. Also, any author who objects to affiliate links for his book being placed on heavily-trafficked websites targeted to avid readers is arguing against his own interests.

Some say that since not every lend on LendInk generated a commission or royalty for authors, the site wasn’t really helping authors at all. Setting aside for the moment that LendInk had no obligation to help authors, the fact that some person or company isn’t helping authors is not a valid justification for destroying it. Besides, regardless of the commission/royalty issue, every listing of a book on LendInk was free advertising and exposure for authors, built entirely on a totally legal and totally pre-existing lend mechanism created by Amazon/B&N, to which authors and publishers voluntarily opted in.

Here are some follow-ups from around the web.

LendInk owner Dale Porter is interviewed on Digital Media Machine.

On Lynch Mobs, Social Media and LendInk.

A.B. Dada Offers T-Shirt Fundraiser, and Hosts a Boycott List of Authors Who Falsely Accused LendInk. Even if the thought of such a boycott list seems wrong to you, it’s important to know this kind of backlash is happening.

LendInk – How Can We Put Things Right? In which one blogger suggests those who falsely accused LendInk make amends via public apologies and retractions.

And finally, Publetariat founder and Editor in Chief April L. Hamilton offers this tongue-in-cheek YouTube video, How To Maintain Control of Your Work and Beat the Ebook Pirates, which is based on actual statements made, and objections levelled, by real indie authors who weighed in on the LendInk debacle.

 

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