Amazon in talks to launch a Netflix-like service for e-books

By on September 12, 2011, 1:30 PM

Amazon is reportedly considering a Netflix-like service that would give users access to part of their book library for a flat fee. According to the Wall Street Journal the service is still in the early planning stages, so it may not even materialize, but the idea would be to make it a part of Amazon Prime and include only digital versions of older titles with a limit on the number of "free" books that a user can access every month.

Considering a lot of people will only read books once the idea of renting them through an all-you-can-eat plan rather than purchasing copies individually would make sense -- not to mention it would make the gradually expanding Prime service even more enticing.

Currently, Amazon Prime subscribers already get free or discounted shipping for their Amazon purchases, as well as a limited library of streaming films and TV shows for an annual fee of $79.

However, as the Journal notes, not all publishers are keen on the idea due to fears that it could devalue books in the eyes of consumers and hurt relationships with other book retailers -- both in the online and offline world.

So far it's unclear whether any publishers have signed onto Amazon's e-book rental program but it will certainly be an uphill battle. Publishers don't like giving up control of the pricing of their books and in fact a few of them adopted a new pricing model known as "agency pricing" last year, which ultimately led to higher prices for many e-books sold through the Kindle store that had been previously selling for $9.99.

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