Amazon Prime ebook subscription in talks for Kindle tablet

Amazon is reportedly considering a subscription-based ebook service, in effect a Netflix-for-readers, which would charge an annual fee for content access. The scheme would initially be part of Amazon's Prime scheme, customers of which currently get unlimited two-day shipping and streaming access to the retailer's digital TV and movie library, the WSJ reports, although the response from publishers Amazon is in talks with has apparently been mixed.

As with movie streaming, Prime subscribers would be able to choose from a selection of older titles as part of their $79 per year membership. Some have suggested that Amazon intends to limit the number of titles readers could access each month, though it sounds as though the exact policies, were the scheme to launch commercially, have not yet been decided upon.

Among the concerns held by publishers is that the blanket access to titles might devalue the perceived value of books to consumers. Although Amazon is reportedly offering "substantial" fees in return for participation, there are considerable fears over readers' attitude to ebooks. "What it would do is downgrade the value of the book business" one publishing executive told the newspaper.

If true, Amazon's continued Prime plans are likely to be tied closely to the company's incoming Kindle tablet. The Android-based slate is expected to focus particularly on the value-add of Amazon's content ecosystem, pushing the various elements of video, music and ebooks all purchased from the retailer's store and saved in its cloud storage.