Amazon eyes Netflix for e-books: A move to get more Prime subscribers

Amazon is reportedly plotting a subscription service for e-books. In the end, Amazon's move would be another perk for Prime subscribers.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Amazon is reportedly planning a Netflix-like subscription service for e-books in a move that would be another perk for Amazon Prime subscribers.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is in talks with book publishers about subscription access to a library of e-books. Now there are a bevy of issues with this concept. The Journal notes that publishers are wary and the latest titles may be excluded---just like Netflix's streaming service.

For Amazon, this e-book library is likely to be lumped in with its Amazon Prime services. Today, you pay Amazon $79 a year and you get unlimited two day shipping and access to movies and TV shows.

If this e-book library model pans out, a digital library could be thrown in as well. Add it up and Amazon clearly wants Prime subscribers because they have the buying frequency the company needs to grow.

Ultimately, Amazon could toss music into Amazon Prime, which will be the hub services for any new tablet the company launches.

A few thoughts:

  • Publishers are likely to push back against Amazon's idea at first. The Journal noted that one publishing executive said that an e-book service would diminish the value of individual books. Translation: Look for some tiering mechanism like movie studios have. There will be release windows.
  • The Prime subscriber benefits. While the e-book library isn't likely to garner Prime subscriptions by itself, it's a nice add-on. For instance, I don't use Amazon's streaming movie service much, but it was enough to get me off the fence about becoming a Prime subscriber.
  • Amazon's end-game is Prime subscriptions. In the end, it's clear that Amazon wants to be more than a transactional player. Amazon wants your frequency to support new models---notably subscriptions and advertising.

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