My Thoughts Monday – “Netflix for Books”

Melanie’s “My Thoughts Monday” #1

Article – “Why the Subscription Dream of a ‘Netflix for Books’ Still Has Its Limits” by James Bridle

Over the course of my book blogging adventures, I have made mention of my experience with ebooks and how they are my typical reading format.  I won’t hesitate to admit that in addition to being a college student, I am not afforded with the ability to set aside a lot of hours for working.  This means that I don’t have a lot of disposable income and am therefore unable to afford the luxury of regularly purchasing books, whether physical or electronic alike.  In the past few years I have relied on receiving a lot of my ebooks from free promotions and friends/family, whether it is in the form of a purchase, lending, or a gift card.  I have been incredibly lucky in that regard – having people who will help me feed my hunger for books.  It is because of my low disposable income debacle that I would be extremely interested in the idea of a Netflix-like service for ebooks.

Again, I will be honest with you – I consider myself to be a child of the digital age and a consumer of its products:  smartphones, laptops, computers, ereaders, tablets, etc. are all products which I have a familiar desire for, a seeming need for.  It is this love for the digital and my consumption of ebooks combined with my low disposable income that lends me with an incredible amount of interest in the idea of a Netflix-like service for ebooks.  It would be absolutely amazing if I could pay $10 per month to read any ebooks I wanted – I could go to the site and just pick out any book from my “To Be Read List” and just download it directly to my device and start reading it.  There’d be no hoops to jump through, there would be no ensuing guilt for having spent money on another book because I would be paying to access whatever was available for a single monthly rate – I could get as few or as many books as I wanted and not be punished for it.  I already take part in this same type of deal with Netflix having access to tons of movies and tv shows that I love and I can watch as often or as infrequently as I wish – so long as I pay my monthly subscription, I can determine my own usage of the product (except for when I binge watch too many episodes in a row and they give me the prompt asking me basically whether or not I am still awake/alive).

Bridle points out what the largest issue is going to be in making this idea a reality stating, “This is the real challenge for book subscription services:  getting enough titles people actually want on to their virtual shelves, without scaring off publishers who’ve only just got comfortable with downloads.”  It is an interesting conundrum, how would a company such as Amazon or Oyster go about presenting the idea of a subscription based book library service as a reasonable idea?  The other seeming conundrum I would also expect to be a highly debated subject are prices and profits.  Amazon is a company which has proven time and time again that they aren’t afraid to take risks – even if those opportunities end up being a loss, but they have also come up big on some of these risks and Kindle EReaders/Tablets and ebooks are one of them.  I agree with Bridle when he points out, “…the company with the best shot at ‘persuading’ publishers on to their platform is Amazon itself.”  While I don’t necessarily approve of Bridle’s use of the word persuading, it is a highly accurate description for what Amazon would need to do in order to increase the amount ebooks available via their Amazon Unlimited from the current approximation of 25% of their library – the advertised amount is at least 700k ebooks meaning that their total ebook library is approximately 2.8 million ebooks.  I’ll be honest, having access to 700k ebooks would be amazing, but if Amazon was able to extend it to their entire library of 2.8 million it would be overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time.

I don’t know what is more likely to cause such a business model to be more widely adopted nor do I know what it would entail to make this idea more appealing to publishing companies.  A wider market?  A bigger share of profits?  I can’t imagine, but I can only hope that this could in fact become a reality as an avid ebook and ereader user.

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