I came across an interesting article today by Joseph Esposito, Everybody Wants a Netflix for Books. First there was Amazon Prime and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library that allows Prime customers to borrow one Kindle book each month. Next came Oyster where for just $9.95 a month you have access to as many ebooks as you can read. The catch is that you can only choose from the books in their library and they may or may not have the newest book you want to read like, for instance, The Luminaries.

Esposito’s article is the best explanation I have read so far on just what we mean when we say we want a Netflix for books and why that is not likely to happen. Using Netflix as the example, he clearly explains the difference between getting DVDs in the mail and streaming video and then translates that to books. It all comes down to copyright which these days is all about money. If there are some publishers that won’t even allow libraries to lend ebooks, there certainly isn’t going to be a comprehensive service for ebook rental.

My question is though, do we really want such a service anyway? I mean, I can understand it if you like to tear through short genre kinds of books like mysteries, romance, scifi and fantasy. But what about longer, more substantial books? You know every book you read in a month is not going to be an ebook even if you could get everything you wanted to read without waiting in line for it. So let’s say you read two books a month from the book service, and let’s say the monthly fee is $10-15. Would you sign up? Would it be worth it?

I can’t help but think it isn’t worth it especially when I can go to the library. Sure, I have to wait in line for popular books, but I have so many books to read anyway waiting a few weeks or even a few months is no big deal. Plus, I don’t have to pay a monthly fee. The money I don’t spend on fees I can use to buy those books I just can’t wait for.

But maybe I am wrong. Maybe if there was an online ebook rental service that was reasonably priced and had everything I wanted to read resistance would be futile. What do you think? Do you want such a service? Would you sign up if it existed? What would be the monthly fee you’d be willing to pay?

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