Amazon is chatting with publishers about starting a subscription-based digital book library—but publishers are reluctant to jump on the bandwagon. Under the Netflix-like proposal, consumers would pay a yearly fee to get access to the library, insiders tell the Wall Street Journal. Publishers, however, are concerned that such a plan could weaken books’ perceived value among customers; it could also damage the publishers’ relationships with other booksellers, they note. "What it would do is downgrade the value of the book business," says a publishing exec.
One way the idea could come to life: as a library containing older books, accessible to members of Amazon Prime, the $79-a-year service that gives customers access to two-day shipping and a range of digital movies and TV shows. Publishers would be offered a healthy fee for their participation, and some insiders note that Amazon would likely cap the number of books its customers could read monthly. Whether any publishers have yet signed on remains unknown.