May 28, 2022

The Netflix Model for Books: "Amazon in Talks to Launch Digital-Book Library"

Is the WSJ report linked below on what might become Amazon’s “Netflix like” program the beginning of a new way to access and read ebooks. Perhaps.

However, the article has few if any hard facts and Amazon isn’t talking. In fact, the WSJ is clear that they don’t know if any publishers have even signed on.

Nevertheless, even with the details about what MIGHT be coming from unknown, we should still should start or continue discussing–as a concept–what rental programs like this would mean for library services and collections? How would/will libraries deal with them? If we get our views into the mix early on can we influence (or at least be heard) about how publishers can best build these services? Do we need to heard?

Also, what would service like this mean for companies like OverDrive, ebrary, EBSCO, and others?  What about the already announced OverDrive/ partnership?

From the Wall St. Journal (Subs Only**):

“ Inc. is talking with book publishers about launching a Netflix Inc.-like service for digital books, in which customers would pay an annual fee to access a library of content, according to people familiar with the matter.”

It’s unclear how much traction the proposal has, the people said. Several publishing executives said they aren’t enthusiastic about the idea because they believe it could lower the value of books and because it could strain their relationships with other retailers that sell their books, they said.”

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday.


Amazon has told publishers it is considering creating a digital-book library featuring older titles, people familiar with the talks said. The content would be available to customers of Amazon Prime, who currently pay the retailer $79 a year for unlimited two-day shipping and for access to a digital library of movies and TV shows.

Reuters also summarizes the WSJ story here.

*** Remember, the WSJ article (any WSJ article) behind the file wall is accessible for free if you access directly via Google News. So, in this case, click here. The first (and only) result is today’s story.

See Also:  Subscription services providing content (but not using a “Netflix” model) direct from publishers are already out there. The first one that comes to mind is Safari Books Online from O’Reilly and Pearson Education. It’s been available for a decade.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.