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Lendle now back online

Late yesterday Lendle received a response from Amazon explaining why they were cut off. Lendle didn’t share the complete details, but they did tell us something:

Late today, we received an email from an Associates Account Specialist at Amazon informing us that their concern only relates to our Book Sync tool, which syncs a user’s Kindle books with their Lendle account. Amazon informed us that if we disabled this feature, our access to the API, as well as our Amazon Associates account, would be reinstated.

So it looks like I was right, and Lendle did something specific to piss off Amazon. Everyone who got mad at Amazon for attacking a lending site was wrong. This is an example of why you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Amazon didn’t do anything to harm most of these lending sites, only the ones that probably broke a rule.

I don’t claim to understand the technical details, but a number of readers on my last post about Lendle reported that Lendle did more than other ebook lending sites, and there was a chance that Lendle did break one of Amazon’s rules.

One commenter was a developer who had worked with Amazon before, and he thought this was how Lendle violated the rules (thanks, Michael):

Last I checked, there was no way to access a Lending Enabled attribute through the Product Advertising API. If a web service needs to confirm a title’s lendability, then I’m unaware of any way to do so aside from scraping the HTML from the actual product page. This is strictly verbotten in dealing with Amazon. The whole reason for offering an API is to control how data is accessed (and also to varying degrees, how it is used), and any registered developer accessing in an unapproved manner would definitely be putting their continued use of the API in jeopardy.

If he’s right, then you really can’t blame Amazon for cutting off Lendle. This was a perfectly valid reason to do so.

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Sam Sattler March 23, 2011 um 10:26 am

True, it was a legitimate reason. But why not contact Lendle directly to explain the concerns. Lendle could have quickly addressed the issue to Amazon’s satisfaction and no big stink would have happened. For such a big company, Amazon is not all that good at PR sometimes. Or do they believe the old saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Nate the great March 23, 2011 um 11:23 am

There are thousands of developers working with Amazon, and this decision was probably made by some low level technician. I would bet that developers are banned on a regular basis, only this one got attention because the service provided was so very public.

Andrys March 25, 2011 um 9:52 am

I think you’re entirely right that a lower-levle staffer made the decision and wrote the no-reply note (which was a non-classy way of handling it, though it seems Amazon had good reason to want to curb Lendle’s way of doing business. Not giving them a person to contact was not good at all.

The Book Sync tool Lendle had to remove to get back to business was the one that the Economist and Ars Technica said set Lendle apart from the other ebook-lending sites. It allowed Lendle to gather the books that were lendable from the Amazon account and list them in the member’s Lendle account, almost like suggestions that they lend these.

The API access is meant to be used, with authorization, when you intend to be offering something at Amazon for sale, it’s said. And this was clearly to make it easier for people to stay in a lending mode for books they might not thought of offering.

It’s a business-focus reason, and no one’s been able to find the two book-lending sites that Lendle said had been contacted too. They were all up and running, the four that are mentioned all the time, and the largest, with 18,000 (, formerly KindleLending club) was reassuring people ALL day that there was no problem with their API access and they weren’t going anywhere, were not affected and it was 'business as usual.'

I saw these on Facebook and Twitter through the day but columnists generalized this was being done to ebook-lending storeS, probably because the Lendle guy said he heard from two other lending sites. He later said they were either scared or defiant. But no one’s been able to find another store notified at this point.

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