Report: Amazon plans digital book subscription service

Amazon wants to bring the concept of digital subscriptions to electronic books — opening up a catalog of content to people who pay an annual fee, according to a Wall Street Journal report today, citing anonymous sources.

Some sites are calling the idea “a Netflix for books,” but just to be clear, that’s a reference the digital streaming side of the Netflix streaming service, not the company’s DVD-by-mail business. In that way, it might as well be considered a Rhapsody or Spotify for books. It would be available subscribers of the Amazon Prime service, which currently runs $79/year.

Amazon isn’t commenting on the report.

The concept sounds interesting but the WSJ story quickly adds some caveats. First off, publishing houses don’t appear to be particularly keen on the idea (another parallel to the music industry). And even if Amazon were to succeed in getting it off the ground content would consist of older titles, not new releases.

Amazon separately announced plans in April to launch a Kindle Library Lending service sometime this year, letting Kindle users can borrow digital books from 11,000 U.S. libraries. A specific launch date for that service hasn’t yet been announced.


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