In what may end up being a Netflix for e-books, Amazon is currently in talks with book publishers to launch a new digital book library for customers of its premium Prime service, the Wall Street Journal reports.
If Amazon manages to convince publishers to sign onto the plan, which would grant Prime subscribers access to a collection of e-books for no extra charge, it could end up being as fundamental a shift for books as Netflix’s streaming video service has been for movies and TV shows.
Book publishers would get a “substantial fee” for participating. But some publishing executives aren’t convinced the plan is in their best interests, as they think it could ultimately lower the value of books, the WSJ says.
Amazon Prime costs $79 a year and offers customers free two-day shipping, $3.99 next-day shipping and access to Amazon’s library of streaming video content. Having access to a bundle of e-books would fit right into Prime and would add more value to the service for existing subscribers.
Sources tell the WSJ that the e-book library would consist of older titles (another similarity to Netflix) and that Prime subscribers would be limited to downloading a few titles from the library every month. Amazon’s Kindle e-book store currently has over 950,000 items.
It certainly wouldn’t cost Amazon much to offer Prime subscribers a choice selection of free e-books, and it would also help to solidify Amazon’s relationship with Kindle owners and tempt many to Prime. The company is also expected to launch a tablet, dubbed simply “The Kindle”, this November for $250.