I read an article yesterday which disclosed that Amazon has approached several large publishers with the idea that they want to charge a flat yearly rate to their privileged customers, and for that fee, the customers would get unlimited free downloads of eBooks. It is the same concept that Netflix uses for streaming films.
It is not clear at this point how the publishers and authors would be compensated, so the author blogs are buzzing today, and not in a good way. I think much of the problem stems from nobody trusting Amazon to treat the authors fairly. But there is a valid concern, and I'm confident that publishers will be looking out for the interests of their stable of writers. After all, Netflix pays billions in licensing fees to the movie studios.
While I hear many writers proclaiming that the sky is falling, I welcome the change. I for one love Netflix. I watch one movie per night, and this has allowed me to give up watching all network, and even cable TV. The idea of paying a monthly service charge and having unlimited access to thousands of films has changed my life. Not only have I given up watching TV, but I rarely go to movie houses to see first run movies. I am content to wait until Netflix lists them.
So how would my life change if I could get the same type of service for books? First off, as a reader, there are a number of books that I haven’t read because they are expensive. Now I could read them under the same low yearly fee.
As an author, I believe that I would actually sell more books under Amazon’s new plan. More people will read books if they can get dozens of books for one low yearly fee, and there is no reason to think that my books would not be included in that mix. I’m convinced my readership would grow.
I think my only fear, shared by many, is that Amazon would become even more influential in the world of book retailing. It is already a monster that is at the core of changing the entire book industry. This will give them even longer teeth. But then, no doubt B&N and others will follow in the path they blaze.
It is clearly too soon to tell, but I think this is a great idea. After all, isn’t this the same idea of libraries? Time will tell if the authors end up getting screwed, but you can bet your boots, if anyone does get screwed, it will be the very people who created the stories in the first place.