According to stories on SlashGear and the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is in the process of negotiating with major publishers for the right to offer a subscription-based ebook service, possibly as part of their current Prime membership benefits. Similar to the free streaming access to a subset of their digital movies and TV show store that Amazon extended to Prime members, the planned service would give members the right to download and read (or perhaps access and read through the Kindle Cloud app) selections from a selected library of content. The move from Amazon can be seen as both a way of adding value to its Kindle brand, and competing with emerging "loaner" programs being launched by public libraries and Barnes & Noble (whose plan allows full streaming access to its digital offerings, but only from its stores WiFi feeds.
Reactions from publishers has reportedly been mixed. Publishers fear that blanket access to titles might limit the value of books. The huge boom in eReader and eBook sales this year already seems to have the publishing industry in panic mode, and now concerns about libraries loaning newly published ebooks and the potential addition of an Amazon "loaning" pool is fanning the flames. On the other hand, unlike the library loan programs, Amazon seems willing to pay what's quoted as "substantial" fees for their planned service, and that's something publishers should consider. Along with the promotional potential, as readers may develop interests in authors or series that could create added demand for related titles.
The stories also suggest that Amazon hopes to have some kind of Prime access plan in place for the coming launch of a Kindle tablet. The new tablet is expected to run the Android OS, optimized to allow users to benefit from the added value of Amazon's digital content offerings (video, music, text), all obtained through Amazon and stored on the Amazon Cloud service for access anywhere, anytime.
Sources - Amazon Prime ebook subscription in talks for Kindle tablet, SlashGear
Amazon in Talks to Launch Digital-Book Library, Wall Street Journal - Technology
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