By Paul Shea
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is apparently thinking of offering a Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) style all you can read book service. Details of the service, which is apparently to be called "Kindle Unlimited" appeared on the company's website briefly this afternoon. The appearance, which was apparently part of a test, was met with retraction as soon as the leak was discovered, but the pages have been recovered.
According to the release, which was picked up by Gigaom earlier this afternoon, Amazon.com Inc. is currently testing the service. Those tests may have resulted in the accidental publication of the pages on the web today. The service is apparently going to cost $10 per month, a good deal more than that currently charged by Netflix Inc. for unlimited video streaming.
Amazon charges for the library
The move appears to be the Amazon.com Inc. version of the library. Those who pay get access to as many books as they want, publishers accept a deal that reduces their take but ups their margin and Amazon.com Inc. pockets the difference, improving its own margin, or, if the company is lucky, actually turning that number reliably positive.
There is already a Kindle Lending Library available to those who pay for Amazon Prime, but Amazon.com Inc. appears to see value in breaking up its service. It's not clear what kind of overlap there might be between the two libraries, but it is clear that Amazon is changing its strategy. With the release of the Amazon Fire phone around the corner, the company's margins may be pushed by high marketing costs in the coming quarters.
Amazon faces up to publishers
Kindle Unlimited will give users access to more than 600,000 different books, but there was no indication about the disposition of publishers to the business model. Netflix Inc. had a tough time getting big-ticket video content onto its platform because of the reluctance of media companies to embrace a new era of video distribution. Amazon.com Inc. may have the same problem with its Kindle Unlimited service.
The large lending library available to browse in today's leak included works published by the following companies: Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Harvard University Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Open Road Media, W.W. Norton (Flash Boys by Michael Lewis), and Workman, though it was unclear if these companies had given their permission to be part of any Kindle Unlimited style service.
Hachette, which Amazon.com Inc. is still in dispute with, is nowhere to be seen on the list of books in the Kindle Unlimited library. Given the strength of the rumors about this idea in recent weeks, the clear confirmation that Amazon is working on Kindle Unlimited didn't move the company's stock by much on today's market.
Shares in the firms were up a fraction at time of writing. Over the last month, which saw intense rumors that such a service was ready for launch, shares in the company have risen by more than 8%. Amazon.com Inc. is already valued well beyond any other company’s breaking point at a P/E of 557.