Amazon's new business venture.
Amazon has always been known in the business industry as a company that is always innovating. They never have been satisfied with doing things the way that they have always been done. If you think about it, they started out with a lofty ambition, which was simply to change the way that people buy books. In the process, they have created or acquired other companies that share their goals. Their other company, Zappos, for example, has changed the way that people buy shoes (and almost anything else). The secret to their success is making it easy for customers to buy their products and services and then following it up with fast shipping times and great customer service.
Now, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Amazon is planning to launch a new book rental service that would be sort of like a Netfilx for books. It's a pretty neat idea, actually. For a monthly fee, subscribers can have access to a catalogue of books, magazines and newspapers, delivered directly to their Kindle or their Kindle App.
If you haven't noticed, Amazon got way ahead of the game some time ago by offering a free Kindle App for almost any platform. From your laptop, Google Chrome browser, a Blackberry, Android phone, Tablet, iPhone, iPod, and iTouch, users can keep their libraries organized and have them wherever they want, whenever they want. The coolest thing is that all of the Apps work together to keep user's bookmarks and pages all synced up. This way, if you were reading a book on your Kindle, and later wanted to continue reading it on another device, you would be able to pick up right on the page you left off. This makes it easy for customers to buy Kindle versions of books and, because they aren't restricted to just one device, they have even more reasons to buy.
The monthly book service is still in the early stages and their is no confirmation of when it will become available. Some publishers aren't happy about the idea and are resistant to offering their publications in this format. It's easy to see why. Already many publishers are struggling to keep their subscribers and an inexpensive option like Amazon has in mind might make things even tougher for them.
From what I have read about the plan, it looks like they are only going to be offering older books and there will be limits on how many books users can have access to each month. Rather than offer the service at an individual monthly fee, Amazon plans to tie it in with their Amazon Prime service. Amazon Prime costs $79 a year and gives subscribers free shipping and access to Amazon on Demand streaming video service.
A book lending service would definitely make the ad-supported, less expensive Kindle much more attractive. Already, this cheaper Kindle has been selling like hotcakes. Since they introduced it earlier this year, Amazon has reported a 50% boost in their revenue. In addition, the company is planning to offer a 7-inch tablet in the near future that may provide some stiff competition for the Apple iPad.
Personally, I am not sure how I feel about this type of subscription service.I have a Kindle, and I have the Kindle App on my other devices. I love having the ability to buy a book and have it sent to my devices instantly. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I am also an Amazon Prime subscriber and I would definitely use the book lending service much more than the video streaming. Even still, there is something about this whole plan that sounds a little familiar.
Let's see, where else could you get access to a large number of books without having to buy them individually? Oh wait, that's right - the local public library. Almost all libraries have started offering eBooks to their lending libraries, they offer DVDs, music and more. They give their members access to large databases of information, hard to find books and publications and can even help you find whatever you need. What's even better is that they do all of this for the low, low price of free.
My worry is that if Amazon offers book lending to all of the people who can afford to pay for it, what will happen to the libraries? Will they become a thing of the past? Libraries are only as relevant as the communities they serve make them. Sure, you might think that they are outdated and only poor people go there, but ask yourself this - what will happen if the libraries disappeared? Will knowledge be accessible only to people who can pay for it?
I know, I know, I might just be making this into a bigger deal than it is, but it still feels a little creepy.
What do you think about Amazon's plan? Are you a supporter of you local library? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for BusinessWorkForceBlog and Nexxt. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.