Lendle would like to borrow one of your books…

(See update below.)

Last week, we posted an article about books being deleted from Amazon’s system.

We’ve collected a few examples and, as you can see, the Amazon links for these books lead to “product not found” pages. 

Water for Elephants ASIN: B004PYDO64

Another (lendable) edition of this book is still available.

Veiled Freedom ASIN: B002IUZM1C

Another (lendable) edition of this book is still available. It’s free, though, so we won’t be surprised if it eventually suffers the same fate.

Fixing Freddie ASIN: B003YL4IGY

No edition of this book is currently available in Amazon’s Kindle store.

The issue, of course, is that these books don’t seem to be lendable, even though those who bought them paid for a lending-enabled edition. As far as we can tell, the first two have been replaced by newer editions, whereas Fixing Freddie isn’t even available as a Kindle book, at this point.

We reached out to Amazon support (via their chat option) and asked a support representative some questions:

Me:

Hi there. I’m starting to notice that several books (Finding Freddie, the Movie Tie-In edition of Water for Elephants, Veiled Freedom) were lendable, but have since been completely removed from Amazon’s system. (The product pages are now dead links.) Some of these books have been replaced by newer editions, some haven’t. Why is Amazon doing this?

Erin:

Hello Brian, thank you for contacting Amazon Kindle Chat Support. My name is Erin. I’ll be happy to look into this for you. It should just be a moment.
Thank you for waiting. It looks like the books are being updated. Occasionally, if we find typos or formatting issues, we will correct the problem, and update the titles so customer’s can access the correct version.

Me:

So, if I bought the movie tie-in edition (lending enabled) of Water for Elephants, which is no longer listed on Amazon — I will automatically be upgraded to a new edition of that book that is lending enabled? Otherwise, I’d have paid for a license to lend the book, but I’d not be able to lend it to someone.
I’m just trying to figure out if I should just give up on lending. If Amazon is constantly updating its books, and one edition is not compatible with another, the lending function breaks.

Erin:

It looks like Water for Elephants is still enabled for lending, however, I also see that it has already been loaned out on your account. Kindle books can be loaned out once, due to licensing restrictions. When books are updated, if they’re lending is enabled, it will stay enabled. Updating Kindle books applies to the book’s contents.

Me:

I’m just using that book as an example. I know how the lending system works. The ASIN for the edition I bought is: B004PYDO64. The URL for the edition I bought was: LINK. So, let’s say I hadn’t lent that book, yet — just hypothetically.
It’s no longer in your system, and it seems to have been replaced by a different version of the same book.
I just don’t want to run into this problem. if there’s a risk that buying one edition of a book means I’ll lose the ability to lend it later (as appears to be the case with this book if I hadn’t already lent it) that seems like a pretty big flaw in the system.

Erin:

You wouldn’t have lost the ability to lend this book. I see that it is still enabled to lend through customer accounts, it’s just not currently available for purchase. Since you purchased the title, while lending was available, it will remain available to you since the book is saved to your account (well, it would be available if the title hadn’t already been lent out).

Me:

Hrm. Okay. Thanks.

Erin:

No problem. Is there anything else that I can help you with while we’re chatting, Brian?\

Me:

Not at the moment. I may have some more questions a bit later.

Erin:

Alright, well please feel free to contact us back if you have any more questions. :)

Me:

Thanks, I will!

Erin:

Thank you for using the Kindle. Have a great day, Brian!

The trouble is, we’re not sure that Erin is correct. As far as we’re aware, no Lendler has ever been able to lend a book once Amazon has dumped it from their system. We’ve certainly heard from at least one other lending service that they’ve had the same frustrations with Water for Elephants. 

So, we need some help: If you own any of the above books, and you’ve yet to lend them, please get in touch with us. We’d like to try to borrow one of them, but not through Lendle.

If what Erin says is accurate, you should be able to lend your copy of those books, manually, even if you can’t lend them through Lendle.

The downside, of course, is that books which are deleted in this way don’t appear to be lendable through lending services, for whatever reason. Amazon doesn’t guarantee that, though, so as long as the books are lendable in some fashion, we’ll be less alarmed by the deletions.

UPDATE: As it turns out, our Lendlers are really fast. We’ve already seen some responses, and it definitely appears that Erin is mistaken. A deleted book does not appear to be lendable, even manually, even if it was marked as lendable when purchased.

We suspect that Amazon is well within their rights to do this, but it still feels an awful lot like a bait and switch tactic.

UPDATE 2: Another Lendler has attempted to loan the defunct edition of Water for Elephants, with no luck. This is the book that Erin specifically said was still “enabled to lend through customer accounts” and it turns out that it is not.