Oh, how I wish that Amazon offered a Netflix streaming model—for Kindle books.
Netflix lets me pay about $10 per month to stream as many movies from its catalog as I can watch. There’s obviously a ton of bandwidth involved—on both ends of the deal—but the value proposition is awesome: I can watch whatever I want (from its catalog), whenever I want.
For Kindle books, my only option is to buy the books I want. I can’t donate my read books to a library, I can’t give them to friends; they simply sit, either on my Kindle or in my Amazon digital locker. (I can lend some books, one time, to one person, and then never again.) Customer rights for e-books are, in a word, pathetic.
But what if I could pay Amazon some fee to have unfettered access to its Kindle book library—but just one book at a time? This wouldn’t work for those times when you want to load up before a 24-hour, Internetless plane ride, but it would satisfy my e-reading needs almost all of the time.
If you want a book, you download and start reading. If you want another book, you lose the first book and start reading the new one. But you can always go back again.
I’m not holding my breath for such a plan, of course. It’s great for customers, but less great for publishers.
So how does Netflix pull it off with movies, movies that cost many millions of dollars to make? Even if Amazon could make “only” a fraction of its book catalog available for such a service, I think it would be impressively compelling. One tenth of a million books is still 100,000 books.