Everyone loves free, right? We all want to feel like we’re getting something that others are paying for, and bargains are great, especially with the economy still in shambles. Even so, we’ve said since the beginning that we have no interest in being seen as a destination for free content, or as an alternative to purchases.
Of course, we know that people will occasionally tweet about Lendle as a destination for free books. The only thing we can do is control our own messaging to reinforce the image that we’d like to convey.
It’s a subtle distinction, yes, but we believe a concerted focus on lending, coupled with the way we’ve structured our service, results in a better social experience for everyone.
People who associate a site with “free” have no expectation that they’ll ever have to give back. Why would they? Free, to us, means “borrow at will” and we suspect people with that mentality won’t ever contribute — beyond taking. We think that’s a toxic environment for a service like Lendle. Our outstanding lend rate, we think, is proof that our focus is working.
We also think it would be irresponsible to send the wrong idea to publishers, especially at such a formative time for the industry. One of our goals is to drive positive change, and we don’t think we can do that if we scare publishers away from something they’re already wary of.
Yes, Lendle would be even better with more lendable titles, but it would undeniably be worse with less.
We understand that many of you are skeptical of content providers. The RIAA and MPAA have certainly heightened expectations that the music and movie industries are out of touch and lacking in vision. At the same time, we’ve never really understood how it will help to take — or demand — access, to overreach in an attempt to get what we want, short term.
This is why we encourage and enable purchases as often as we can. It’s why we’re reaching out to Knopf/Random House and trying to engage authors. It’s why we require Lendlers to lend (and buy) as well as borrow. It’s why we’re going to reward lends with Amazon gift cards rather than cash.
We think a better future for Lendle involves more access, not less, and we don’t think burning bridges will lead to more access. Perhaps, if nothing else, some of what we do today will shape the evolution of the publishing industry in the future.
We simply don’t think there’s much of a future in promising “free content!” and we look forward to doing our part to forge a better path forward. We’ve got a lot of big picture ideas and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
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