One of the nice things about Barnes & Noble ebooks is that many of them are lendable. The rules are fairly strict — you can only lend a book once, and only for 2 weeks when you do — but it is a nice option if you want to share an ebook with someone outside your household.
Of course, if you are like me, you don't share your books very often. I read so much, for one thing, that hardly anyone can keep up, even those of my friends who do like to read. Also, most of my physical books are collectible copies that I hardly let anyone pick up, let alone read.
Since Barnes & Noble's lendable ebooks have hit the market, however, a number of lending services have popped up. I just recently tried eBookFlip.com, a fairly new one, but I like it because it doesn't cost you anything. (Some services require that you buy points in order to participate.) With eBookFlip.com, you earn points when you list your lendable books on the site, lend books to others, and leave feedback for others. Borrowing a book costs you points, of course, and you have to maintain a 2:1 borrowing-to-lending ratio.
So far I've lent way more than I've borrowed — 5 books lent to just 2 borrowed. Part of it is because I am in the middle of a long fantasy novel, The Name of the Wind, and I don't want to borrow too many until I get closer to the end of it. Yesterday I also got a couple of library books that I'd been waiting for, so as you can see I have plenty to read for the moment. I might miss out on a couple of books by waiting, but we'll see.
Only one of the books I've borrowed have I finished and returned, and that was Fireflies in December. It was a wonderful book, one that I might consider buying, so it's true that the Lend Me system can actually stimulate sales. (In some ways it already did trigger a sale for me, because I decided to buy The Hunger Games instead of borrowing it on eBookFlip.com, and purchased my own copy a couple of nights ago.) However the site will also allow me to get a few books from my wish list that aren't available from the library and that I don't really want to buy.
The site is pretty new and they are still working out some of the kinks, but so far I've been really pleased. I did have an instance where, instead of a lend offer through Barnes & Noble, I received a file sent to my email — presumably a pirated copy of the ebook, but may also have been a virus or malware (I didn't open it to find out). I emailed the site administrator, and they immediately banned the user, returned my points, and reset my account so that I could request the book from someone else.
A great service, though of course it will only be as effective as its popularity allows it to be, since the site has to get more members in order to offer more ebooks. I hope it will continue to grow, and be useful to avid readers like myself!