Wall Street Journal – “Amazon in Talks to Launch Digital-Book Library” A WSJ article by Stu Woo and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg on Monday reports that Amazon is talking with publishers about a Netflix-like service for e-books, which would provide access to a library of content (older books) for an annual fee.
Publishing executives have said they’re not enthusiastic about the idea, for the usual reasons — belief this type of subscription service could “lower the value of books,” WSJ reports, and could strain relationships with other retailers selling their books.
Apparently, Amazon has told publishers tht it’s considering a digital-book library featuring older titles and this content would be available to Amazon Prime customers, who currently pay $79 a year for unlimited 2-day free shipping and free access to ~5,000 older streaming movies and TV shows. The eventual Amazon tablet and Amazon Prime benefits that have been predicted to be included with the purchase of one come to mind.
What would publishers get out of this? A “substantial fee” for participating in the program. We’ve seen the resistance to this kind of service: Macmillan and Simon & Schuster don’t allow public library loaning of their e-books, and HarperCollins has decided that libraries must purchase a new e-book license after a book has been checked out 26 times (in an economy which is already threatening the life of many public libraries). Amazon would have, per WSJ, a limit on the amount of books Amazon Prime customers could read for free every month. For Non-Prime customers, I read another report that expected the annual price would be something like $120, or $10/mo.
There’s no info yet that any publishers have signed on — they prefer people buy their books and they don’t want to encourage the impression that e-books don’t have much value. WSJ quotes one publishing executive’s concern: “What it would do is downgrade the value of the book business.” That has a familiar ring.
For a really good analysis of the pros and cons of this idea, see Tim Carmody’s article at Wired’s Epicenter. While his article headline suggests that publishers should be worried, his closing section on “why Amazon’s proposal may be a good idea after all” is very strong, making several good points, including one by Mike Cane, although — re the latter’s worry over author income due to Amazon’s ways — I’ll point you to this very interesting Washington Post article about how some writers are doing in the Amazon e-book environment. While most new authors remain invisible, without adequate online-marketing although a certain level of writing is needed too, even more authors would not be able to publish at all in the traditional settings.
Plastic Logic is back The Plastic Logic 100 shatterproof e-reader
After cancelling its long-anticipated Que e-reader last year, Plastic Logic is back after receiving financing in Russia for its classroom-focused 10.7″ e-paper “electronic textbook” with shatterproof, anti-glare, anti-fingerprint, 1280 x 960 touchscreen display, weighing only about one pound. It looks very good.
Running Windows CE, with 4GB of storage, it doesn’t include wireless (!) The price is pretty steep for an e-reader with no wireless.
The Plastic Logic 100 will be in classrooms in Russia later this month, preloaded with 40 textbooks for Russian school grades 6 and 7 and priced at the equivalent of $396 U.S.
No word on when it might appear elsewhere. Business Weekly reports that Plastic Logic is supported by Rusnano, “Russia’s nanotechnology powerhouse.”