Show News September 12, 2011
The E-book Library Publishers Don't Want

While physical libraries are under siege, is planning to start a virtual book-borrowing service. The Wall Street Journal reports that the yet-to-be-named Amazon library would operate on a Netflix-type model, where subscribers would pay an annual fee to access a library of electronic books.

An unnamed publisher quoted in the WSJ article worried that participating in such a program would devalue physical books, and other unnamed publishing execs are concerned about how such a scheme would affect their relationships with non-Amazon retailers that carry their product.

What wasn't mentioned in the story is how major publishers were already wary of Amazon's ever-growing power in the book-iverse. Two years ago, Amazon briefly halted all sales of e-books from big six publisher Macmillan over disagreements about e-book pricing, and this past May Amazon hired Larry Kirshbaum, the former head of Time Warner Books (now Hachette), to run an in-house publishing arm designed to compete directly with Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and, of course, Macmillan.

With already the leading bookseller in the world - North American book sales alone were US$6.9 billon; closest competitor Barnes & Noble sold US$4.4 billon - an integrated lending service would further solidify Amazon's status as the biggest player in the game. And while that game isn't zero-sum, the more power a single retailer has, the more difficult it will be for publishing houses (and authors who make their money from book sales) to have a voice in the industry as it moves forward.



Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are pre-moderated/reviewed and published according to our submission guidelines.