Amazon reportedly working on ‘Netflix for books’

Amazon is apparently set to launch a new service that will give users access to a massive collection of e-books for a flat monthly fee.

The Wall Street Journal cites people familiar with the online retailer as saying Amazon is currently trying to court publishers with the idea.

However, they haven’t all been very open to the idea. Unlike movie studios, book publishers are still new to the idea of digital distribution and thus hesitant to try anything that goes out of their comfort zone.

The idea would be just like Netflix, where users pay a monthly fee and can read any book they want. The catch is they never ‘own’ any of the books they read, and once they stop paying the monthly fee, their access is shut off.

Amazon has another Netflix-like service already in its quiver. The retailer offers a slew of streaming videos in its Amazon Prime Instant video platform, which is included with the company’s Amazon Prime subscription-based service.

According to the Journal, Amazon’s hope is to include Kindle renting as part of Amazon Prime as well. That would mean for $79 a year, users get unlimited free 2-day shipping on any physical good they want, access to free streaming movies and TV shows, and access to free e-books. Not a bad deal. At least, for the end user.

For individual publishers, it’s not such a great deal. Right now Amazon is focusing on older works that likely not as many people would be interested in. Similar rumors have circled around before so it’s certainly far from a done deal.

Nevertheless, Amazon holds quite a stake in the e-book market and if anyone can make it happen, it’s the one to do it.