Has the time finally come for Amazon start start lending out ebooks? The Wall Street Journal says that this might just be a possibility soon, and that the online retailer has been in talks with several book publishers about a service that would involve customers paying a monthly fee to access ebooks temporarily, Netflix-style. All this, just in time for the release of their new tablet.
Nothing is confirmed or official as of today, but the ability to borrow ebooks on a device like the Kindle is something that users have been wanting for a while now. And while there are services that allows borrowing between users and through local libraries, sometimes you just want to test drive a book before buying it without having to go through another Kindle user or a third party. However, here are the catches: the new monthly service would only apply to older titles, would only be available to those who pay $79 a month for Amazon Prime, and there would be a limit to how many books could be borrowed per month.
And you know what would be perfect for all that digital reading? A tablet! To compete with Apple for numerous kinds of digital content including ebooks, they will be releasing a 7-inch tablet with a full-color touch screen that runs on Android in October. And how much is that going to cost? $249. (Compared to the iPad, which is at least twice that amount.)
There is no word about which publishers have agreed to participate in this service, but the ones who do are getting a “substantial fee.” Probably because they feel that lending their books out might stop people from actually buying them, which publishers see as decreasing the value of their books. But when the economy is as bad as it is, people can’t spend their disposable income — if they even have one — on books they might only read once. As much as they think it would hurt them, publishers should really take a look at that fee being offered by Amazon, lest they miss out on something that could prove good for book publishing (though bad for retailers who don’t hop on board). And with a new, affordable tablet on the way, there are going to be a lot of people looking for greater amounts of digital content.