WSJ is reporting that Amazon, who makes the popular Kindle reading device, is in early negotiations with book publishers regarding the offering of a digital library service. If an agreement is reached with content publishers, the “Netflix-like” library service would enable Amazon subscribers to pay an annual fee to access a library of digital books.
The digital library concept is not a new concept for Amazon. Just several months ago, Amazon launched a textbook rental service. The service, which offers tens of thousands of textbooks for rental, saves students up to 80% off of list price and allows them to “check-out” the textbooks for periods of 30 to 360 days. In addition, Amazon has licensed over 100,000 movies and TV shows that are available for viewing through Amazon Instant Video.
A comprehensive digital library would pair perfectly with the new Android-powered Kindle Tablet, which is currently scheduled for a product launch late this fall. If Amazon can offer newspapers, magazines, and a comprehensive selection of books on this device for a modest subscription fee, these tablets will fly off the shelves.
Although an Amazon spokesperson was not immediately available for comment, sources familiar with the negotiations are stating that publishing executives are cautious regarding the licensing of digital content to the e-commerce giant. The publishers are concerned that a “Netflix-like” subscription rental agreement could further stress already fragile relationships with brick-and-mortar bookstores. Just last month, Borders Bookstores, a 40 year-old chain, announced the closing of the vast majority of its stores.
Since negotiations with the publishers are ongoing, Amazon has not published a launch date for this new service.