Amazon Planning Kindle Subscription Service

Dennis Faas's picture

Amazon is said to be considering a library-style subscription service that will allow users to read multiple books on its Kindle e-reader for a single fee. However, it appears publishers may not like the idea.

It's reported that Amazon is currently in talks with publishing firms about the service, which would be offered to Amazon Prime customers. Originally, Prime (which costs $79 per year) simply entitled members to free two-day shipping across the US on all items, no matter their value.

Amazon has since added access to a limited range of online streaming movies and television shows, so book "borrowing" would be a logical extension of their existing Prime service.

Kindle Flat Fee Service in Place of Book Royalties

It doesn't appear Amazon is interested in the traditional physical library model in which authors and publishers receive a small royalty each time a book is checked out.

Instead, Amazon wants to offer companies a "substantial fee" to allow their books to be in the library. Of course, the economics would have to be different without the need for Amazon to buy in physical stock in the first place.

Another potential change from the traditional library model is that users wouldn't be limited to having a number of books out simultaneously, but rather limited to how many books they could read in a single month.

That may make more sense, as many Kindle users enjoy the ability to have multiple books "on the go" at once, in a way that's not practical with printed titles.

Publishers Remain Unimpressed

According to the Wall Street Journal, there is a snag with the plan: publishers don't seem very interested. They are said to be concerned that the library system could harm sales of e-books. (Source:

Amazon has already adapted its Kindle sales model in several ways to mirror traditional libraries. Last year it launched a feature for US users to "lend" books to one another: it's limited to one loan of each book, for a maximum of two weeks, and the title is unavailable on the original e-reader while it is "lent out."

Earlier this year, Amazon announce plans to allow 11,000 real-world libraries to lend out e-books to users, though this was limited to as little as seven days in some cases. In addition, the company recently began hiring out virtual copies of textbooks for students who couldn't afford an outright purchase. (Source:

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