One blogger for Seattle Weekly is calling it a “continu[ing] war on libraries“, but at the moment Amazon’s new Netflix-esque subscription service for the Kindle is more speculation than fact.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is “in talks” to create a subscription-based service, much like Netflix’s model, wherein members would get access to a library of participating books on their Kindles.
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.
Problems for Publishers
Among those concerned are the publishers, who weren’t thrilled about Amazon’s e-book pricing not too long ago, and then about Amazon’s lending program announced in April of this year. Yet the pricing issue was resolved in the publisher’s favor and the lending program became very limited, so the publishers aren’t totally out in the cold.
While their arguments that lower prices for e-books lowers the overall perceived value of the book is nonsense, they’re still in the fight and making policy regarding this new format. Publishers are having a hard time grasping that this digital format is viable and wanted, and there is plenty of opportunity for them to make the most of it. Yet they drag their feet and resist instead of looking for a new solution.
War on Libraries?
The institution that’s embracing this new format is the same one that many of these bloggers are crying the death of: libraries. Yet for every blogger calling Amazon’s plans a “war on libraries” or reducing libraries to “being utilized only by high-school field-trippers and homeless people in need of a shave“, it’s the libraries who are pushing for digital lending and providing these e-readers to their members to use in the first place.
As it stands, it’s currently difficult for libraries to lend e-readers like the Kindle in such a way that a patron can get the book of their choice. A subscription service expands the lending capability of the device, and makes them more desirable to the patron (and the notion that libraries only lend books is absurd).
Without publisher support, the selection on this subscription service will be slim, much like the lending service. What do you think the ideal compromise would be? If you’re an e-reader user, what would you like to have access to? Let us know in the comments.
Contact Meghan Dornbrock at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @meglish.