Sep 12, 2011
Amazon Wants To Be Netflix For Books
Not content with having eviscerated the corpse of Borders, Amazon is now looking to adopt the Netflix model for books. The Wall Street Journal reports that the online retailer is currently negotiating with a number of different publishers to establish a system whereby users will pay an annual fee (yet to be determined) to gain access to an online library of written works. No word yet on which (if any) publishers are ready to jump on board, but I have to imagine that these guys will work something out with Amazon, even if only out of fear of turning into the music industry.
As bandwidth increases, 3G (and now 4G) service becomes more prevalent and devices like Kindles and iPads find their way into the hands of more and more users, creating a giant streaming library seems like a natural fit, and if the price point is reasonable I can't see why people wouldn't jump at the chance. Netflix and Spotify (and soon Apple's iCloud) have long since proved that streaming content is the model of the future and any media/publishing company that isn't willing to adapt will soon find itself lost at sea.
Just yesterday I walked into a giant Borders store that's closing this week and while I've always enjoyed wandering through a bookstore, browsing for new titles, I don't find myself longing for Blockbuster since its demise. If anything, being able to virtually "borrow" books without having to actually purchase individual titles feels like the best way to get people to actually READ again, since they can basically sample any book that sounds interesting and eventually purchase electronic or paper copies of whatever strikes a chord.
Bad news for Barnes & Noble, but probably good news for writers and publishers in the long run, provided everyone decides to play along nicely.