As rumors start circulating that Amazon may soon host an e-book library function, I am positively giddy. This new un-named service would allow subscribers access to an e-library of books for a monthly fee.
Now skeptics are saying that companies have tried this before and no one has been able to conquer the book rental market the way that Netflix has done with the video market. And the detractors are pointing out that not too long ago Amazon launched their own instant video-streaming service, which has not yet surpassed the popularity of Netflix. However, I laugh in the face of their cynicism. The new Amazon e-library feature has the potential to be a real gamechanger.
I'm a Kindle owner and subscribe to Amazon Prime for free two-day shipping and the streaming video service that is part of the package. (One of the things I really love about it is that Amazon has a very different catalogue of videos than Netflix — and I'm basically getting my Amazon video subscription free because I was already paying for Amazon Prime.) This all means that Amazon is my primary destination for online shopping, downloading books and streaming movies. But I love the idea that at that same website I could have a complete e-library at my fingertips.
Furthermore, Amazon already has established relationships with the publishers whose books they sell — and their own recently-launched publishing imprints — so they are uniquely poised to create a digital library unlike anything the world has ever seen. As a booklover the idea of having access to that many titles sends tingles up my spine. An Amazon library could include fiction and non-fiction, traditionally published, independently published and self-published works. Really, there's no telling how far the program may expand if it's successful.
That being said, I don't want to see brick and mortar libraries disappear anymore than I want to see bookstores closing. Frankly, I'm still mourning the end of Borders. But I'm thrilled that soon there may be a 24-hour library where I never accrue late fines and never have to wait in line to check out my books. And the very best part of an e-library from Amazon? I'd never have to buy the books that I don't know I want to keep. (The one downside to life in New York City, minimal storage space.)
I can't wait to see how this project develops and I'd love to hear your thoughts about Amazon's newest (potential) venture in the comments below!