amazon-prime_thumb[1]The Wall Street Journal is reporting that anonymous sources say Amazon is in talks with publishers to launch a “Netflix for e-books” service for Amazon Prime subscribers, under which the subscribers would get free access to an electronic library of older content. It would take its place alongside the streaming movies and TV shows Amazon already offers Prime subscribers.

Amazon is planning to offer publishers “a substantial fee” for taking part, but it may have an uphill battle. If publishers were so threatened by $9.99 e-books maybe giving consumers the idea that e-books should be cheap that they upended the entire e-book industry with a new pricing model, it is hard to imagine that they would want to let consumers have even older e-books for free.

(Found via CNet.)


  1. Publisher who don’t grab at this opportunity are fools. The only thing wrong with Amazon’s reported plans is the link to Amazon Prime. Netflix doesn’t require you to join anything else to participate. This scheme should stand on its own, although perhaps Prime members could get a discount.

    Netflix-like checkout makes a lot of sense for ebooks, particularly if people get to chose how many ebooks they can check out at a time. It gets around the messiness of ebook ownership. Do I really own this ebook, if it can’t be transferred to any device I own? And do I really own it if I can’t resell it? A Netflix-like plan is clearly a rental and renting makes more sense than buying for many titles, particularly read-once novels.

    As an author who also publishes, I find the idea intriguing. I’d be interested in signing up if:

    1. Rental payments are a reasonable slice of the selling price and include a larger payment when a book is checked out longer.

    2. Amazon offers a rent-to-own option to those renters. Rent it, take notes in it, and then decide to buy it with those notes intact.

    3. Amazon demands no exclusivity or pricing fixing. Any title in their system could also be in other rental and purchase schemes. I don’t want all my eggs in one basket.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien (chronology)

  2. Amazon’s new “digital” library attempt is just a weak try to overcome Nook’s huge advantage over Kindle as Nook (unlike Kindle) provides ability to check out library eBooks, and there are a huge number of libraries that provide ebooks in ePub format ( that Nook supports but Kindle doesn’t.) Also, if one goes to any Barnes & Noble store with a Nook, one’s allowed to read any available eBook for free while in the store via free provided in the store Wi-Fi – another “library” option that is already there.
    Current e-Ink Nook Simpletouch is much better than current e-ink Kindle as Nook has the latest generation touch screen display, no page turn lag, it weights less, its battery lasts twice as long, and it doesn’t blink on each page turn – much better than current Kindle 3.

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