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What Would You Pay to Rent Any Kindle Book?
September 12, 2011 - 8:45pm

"Amazon has told publishers it is considering creating a digital-book library featuring older titles, people familiar with the talks said. The content would be available to customers of Amazon Prime, who currently pay the retailer $79 a year for unlimited two-day shipping and for access to a digital library of movies and TV shows." From the WSJ - 9/11/11

Amazon. The whole reason I buy so many Kindle books is that the price of new releases is about the same as that of paperback versions. A hardcover timed purchase for a softcover price. Eliminate that discount and I'm not buying.

We keep getting told that e-books are not really cheaper than paper books. According to the NYTimes, printing, storage and shipping a hardcover books costs $3.25. The rest of the price difference for a $13 e-book, vs. a $26 hardcover, comes from paying the publisher $4 less ($9 vs. $13), and paying the author (in royalties per book sold) $2.27 to $3.25 for e-books vs. $3.90 for the hardcover.

The economics of e-books don't seem to me about lowering the costs per unit, but rather about increasing the number of units sold.

E-books, being so easy to buy, should sell more copies than paper books. (This seems to be occurring at Amazon). If the price is less than $15, I will not hesitate to instantly buy and download an e-book after reading an online review.

The key is that I make the purchase from the same device, and at the same time, that I read the review. This device might be a computer (through the browser), but increasingly it will be through a tablet or a smart phone. If the price is above $15, and if the book is not available as an e-book, then I'll probably put the title in my Wish list - but I will not purchase. E-books drive more book buying.

Which brings us back to the Amazon library service on which the WSJ reported. If new books are not included in the library subscription fee then one of the biggest advantages of e-books disappears. We want to read books that are in the culture, that people are talking about, and that means new books. The Kindle has changed my reading habits from a library / softcover reader - to a new book / e-book reader.

A subscription rental service without new books may have the paradoxical impact of driving down demand for purchasing new e-books. A bad subscription model still makes individual purchases seem expensive in comparison, even if nothing has really changed. The anchoring effect. This has occurred with Netflix. The Netflix streaming service is terrible (bad selection), but I'm down to 1 DVD rental at-a-time because the the low cost of streaming makes renting DVDs seem overly expensive. Amazon needs to be careful here.

So the question is, what would I pay for a yearly subscription that included all Kindle books? Good question. What would you pay? We are talking about renting here. No ability to own the digital book. I would pay, I think, one dollar a day. One dollar a day for instant access to every Kindle book that Amazon sells.

How about you?


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