An article in today’s ReadWriteWeb prompted me to consider the possibility that all media which we consume could follow a service model like Netflix. What if Amazon decided to charge a monthly flat fee for a certain number of books? $10 for 4 books per month or something. Audible does this with audio books. It’s prohibitively expensive with Audible ($20/month for 1 book, I think), but they have to pay publishers and authors AND voice talent and production. Give an author a bottle of scotch and a $400 advance and they’ll write you a masterpiece (ref: Charles Bukowski). Audio books have a lot bigger food chain so they are more expensive by nature. Anyway, Audible is irrelevant for this (you can read a book a lot faster than listen to it). The real advantage that elevates Amazon above the competition is their amazingly broad distribution channel, which puts them in a nice position to offer services really cheap. If I’m an author and I can make $5 on each of 10,000 sold books or $1 off 100,000 sold books, I’m going to pick #2. Now imagine I can completely circumvent publishers because I distribute electronically only. I sell less, but make more … now I make $12 on each of 10,000 sold books. Amazon has the kind of reach to allow an author that sort of opportunity.
I’m sure Amazon considered this and then threw it out the window … but with a few recently successful service launches, the dynamic has changed. Amazon could combine their streaming movies, cloud drive (for storing music), android app store, and excellent mp3 store — many of which have just been released to the world. All of Amazon’s services are very solid, so along with books, they could just offer a flat monthly fee for the whole thing. Essentially, “media as a commodity”.
I’d pay $50/month for books, streamed movies, music, and 5 apps. And if the delivery systems were as seamless as the mp3 store OR the ebook to the kindle, they’d have an exceptional system. Amazon is already a primary destination for product purchases, so it amazes me that they have not yet made the leap to service provider. An author will make less per sale, but they are selling more units. If I am paying $50/month for any number of books, I am going to read (and toss) tons of them. Same with movies and music.