Matthew Ingram, "Why the idea of a Netflix for e-books makes sense"
"According to several reports, including one from the Wall Street Journal quoting several unnamed people “familiar with the matter,” Amazon is considering launching a Netflix-style subscription service in which users would pay a monthly fee for access to a virtual library of e-books. Although publishers don’t seem overly enthusiastic about the idea, it feels like the kind of thing whose time has come — in many ways, the book as we know it has already evolved to the point where it’s more like renting a movie than buying something to treasure forever. The kind of service Amazon is allegedly planning seems like a natural extension of that transition.
When the news of Amazon’s plan hit the web on Monday, a number of observers quickly noted that paying a monthly fee for access to a collection of books sounds a lot like something we already have — namely, a public library. So why wouldn’t people just go to the library instead of signing up with Amazon? The most obvious answer is: For the same reason millions of people have signed up for Netflix when they could just as easily have driven down to the local Blockbuster and rented a movie (an analogy that doesn’t bode well for libraries, since Blockbuster wound up going bankrupt)." Read the full post
"You could even argue that with many e-books, a rental model fits what people already get when they buy one. Not only can retailers like Amazon delete a book remotely — as the company infamously did in 2009, removing copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from users’ Kindles — but e-book sellers also place all kinds of restrictions on what users can do with their books. Many don’t allow users to lend their books to others, or restrict loans (even for libraries) to a certain number. A subscription model would make it more obvious that you don’t really own the book."