Saturday, July 19, 2014

Amazon offers "Netflix-like" unlimited Kindle service, possibly confounding the print book industry

Well, no, we can’t say “It’s free”, but Amazon has announced a new library service, of over 600,000 titles (including audiobooks) for $9.99 a month, main link and video here

Apparently royalties are paid when a consumer has read a portion of a book, although it’s not clear how much or how it knows.  (After you download a book on a Kindle, it’s just like a hardcopy; Amazon doesn’t know if you read it.  The same seems true if you purchase a “cloud” copy of a music CD (as mpg) or video.  If you play the book on its server, then it could tell.)
Brian Fung has a report on the “Netflix-like” service on the Washington Post Saturday, p. A13, here.  The article notes that, while this could be good for consumers and some authors, it could undermine the market for hardcopies, especially paperback reprints of former best sellers.  This might not be welcome news at Barnes and Noble.

I do wonder how this development could play out with the print-on-demand business.  As I noted (review of two books on self-publishing, Oct. 16, 2013) even some self-publishing companies (like Booklocker) are predicated on sales of hard-copy books, and all the service companies pressure authors to buy large inventories of print. 

I noticed that my newest book, DADT III (xLibris), remains available on Kindle for 3.99, but the first two books (iUniverse) no longer are, although they are available in print as paperback.  I surmise that they may be included in the pot for unlimited reading for $9.99 a month.  They had been available as Kindle’s until I checked this morning.  I’ll have to check into this.

It is desirable to have all the books available in portable format.  Although the text of all the older books is available in html, it’s nice to have a downloadable PDF.  I don’t own the production copies but in fact it’s pretty easy to create acceptable PDF’s from Word or HTML and make them available in some convenient mechanism. 

I do have my own “copies” of all three books on my own Kindle device.

Kindle, by the way, has been very useful for getting classics free.  If you want to look up something in a work you read in literature class in college for some reason, that’s the place to go.  I got Thomas Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus” this way (Dec. 2, 2013).   

My own Kindle device tells me that these is a special $3.99 sale through July 31.  Not sure how that fits.
By the way, I am ploughing through Thomas Piketty’s “Capital” (quite massive) and should have a review within about two weeks. 

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