Amazon.com is in talks with book publishers about launching a Netflix-like service for e-books, according to The Wall Street Journal. Customers would reportedly pay a flat annual fee to access the digital library — or join Amazon Prime, a service that also offers free shipping and video streaming for $79 a year. Could a "Netflix for books" really work?
Yep. This could totally take off: While there are already smaller sites offering this service, "a behemoth like Amazon" could really bring e-book lending to the mainstream, says Jack Loftus at Gizmodo. The catchy "Netflix for books" billing may seem a tad hyperbolic, but given that the service would tap into the "powerhouse known as Kindle," it just might be warranted.
"Amazon considering a 'Netflix for books'"
But it's hardly a sure thing: The mega e-retailer still has to get publishers on board, says Stephen Shankland at CNET, and I'm sure negotiations are tense. Still, publishers would be wise to make a deal, as the record companies did with iTunes. Amazon "has enough paying customers to get something off the ground that ultimately could help the publishers with their transition" into an era with fewer and fewer ink-on-paper books.
"Amazon e-book subscription? Publishers should join"
And past Amazon initiatives don't inspire confidence: "If Amazon's Prime Instant Video is any guide, Amazon's Kindle lending library may be nothing to get excited about," says Ian Paul at PCWorld. And remember, it's already possible to get a number of classic books on Kindle for free, from Little Women to War and Peace. Do we really need a full-blown e-library service?
"Amazon preps Netflix-like service for books, says report"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- This Indian meal service is so efficient it's the envy of FedEx
- How to flirt, according to science
Subscribe to the Week