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.
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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.
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?
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