Amazon is in talks with books publishers about a new service that could enable customers to subscribe to Kindle books in bulk for an annual subscription fee, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon has told publishers it is considering creating a digital-book library featuring older titles, people familiar with the talks said. The content would be available to customers of Amazon Prime, who currently pay the retailer $79 a year for unlimited two-day shipping and for access to a digital library of movies and TV shows. Amazon would offer book publishers a substantial fee for participating in the program, people familiar with the proposal said. Some of these people said that Amazon would limit the amount of books that Amazon Prime customers could read for free every month.
However, the deal is anything but certain because print die-hards are not entirely sold on the initiative, fearing the idea might “downgrade” the value of books.
Several publishing executives said they aren’t enthusiastic about the idea because they believe it could lower the value of books and because it could strain their relationships with other retailers that sell their books, they said.
It is also unclear whether enough people would buy into the idea of subscribing to a vast library of digital books. The service would, however, provide value to e-reading aficionados who buy a lot of individual e-books on a regular basis. Of course, if Amazon can work out fair usage terms and keep the prices low, the general public could take the bait, too. If anything, the initiative could be seen as another way to upsell customers to the Amazon Prime subscription package.
That being said, the very idea of subscription-based access to Amazon’s vast books library raises the question whether Amazon is attempting to kill the library per se. It may seem a stretch, but let’s not forget that Kindle books are now outselling hardcover and paperback editions combined. Also, the service could take off if coupled with the forthcoming Amazon tablet, which will probably be the case.