Q&A with eBookFling founder and CEO George Burke

By Editor April 11, 2011

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eBookFling is a nationwide ebook swapping network. The New Jersey-based company was founded in 2010.

SUB: Please briefly describe the service you offer and the technology behind it.

Burke: eBookFling.com is a nationwide swapping network for Nook and Kindle ebooks for tens-of-thousands of members to request 2-week book loans at the cost of one credit each. It works by utilizing the lending feature already enabled on many Kindle and Nook ebooks, which allows an ebook owner a one-time opportunity to loan the ebook to someone and have it automatically returned to the owner’s device in 14 days. An eBookFling borrower will spend one credit to borrow a book from any of our tens-of-thousands of members. We’ll collect the loan via a unique email address, reward the lender with one credit, and pass the download info from Amazon or Barnes & Noble on to the borrower.

SUB: What is the primary value proposition you offer your users?

Burke: The biggest question readers always ask is: “What should I read next?” It’s not the easiest thing to commit to a purchase of a book you don’t know you’ll like. eBookFling creates a unique book discovery opportunity for readers to try before they buy at no cost to them. It also allows readers to extract some value out of the ebooks that have been purchased and read, just sitting on their e-readers collecting digital dust.

SUB: Obviously Amazon and Barnes & Noble are competitors, but who else do you consider to be your primary competition?

Burke: Amazon and Barnes & Noble are not competitors at all. They’re not only the primary source of our revenue via commissions when members purchase ebooks, but are also providing the lending technology making our whole swapping network possible. Currently, Kindle and Nook books are the only ebook platform with publisher clearance to allow readers to loan out an ebook.
As for competition, we’ve seen other sites pop up offering a similar lend-swap model, but do not provide a fair currency to enable swaps, do not track and ensure delivery of requested ebooks, and are either for Kindle or Nook exclusively. Spreading out to both platforms allows members a wider selection of available ebooks.

SUB: How do you market your service?

Burke: How do we market eBookFling? Via media attention and articles…. just like yours.

SUB: How did the idea for eBookFling come about?

Burke: A friend of mine gave me the idea a year ago when only Nook books had lending functionality. Once Amazon launched Kindle book lending as well, it enabled a large-enough marketplace for a service like eBookFling.com to thrive.

SUB: What were the first steps you took to founding the company? For example, did you secure financing first, did you assemble a team, build a prototype of the service, etc.?

Burke: The company is financed by me. The founding team is made up of members of my other company—a “Netflix for books” home delivery rental service, BookSwim.com. 

SUB: Have you accepted outside financing? Do you plan to in the near future? Where do you see eBookFling in a year from now?

Burke: No outside financing yet, and no immediate plans to. We’ve enjoyed massive success in our first month of operations, giving us the ability to grow organically, for now.

We’ve already had thousands of flings, (borrow requests), and as e-readers rise in popularity, we hope to have a half-million flings a year from now. This will not only require our persistence for growth, but also acceptance from publishers…many of which have not yet enabled lending on their entire catalogs.

SUB: Finally, a question I always ask—as an entrepreneur who has weathered the recent financial crisis, what advice do you have for those just starting a business now?

Burke: Got an idea? Do it. Don’t hesitate. A volatile market means customers and financial backers will be looking for leaders like you who made something happen despite the turmoil; and when the dust settles, you’ll be miles ahead of new competition who decided to jump in the game based on your success.

eBookFling – www.ebookfling.com