By Deepa Seetharaman
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc launched a $9.99-per-month subscription service on Friday that lets customers read as much as they choose from its library of more than 600,000 digital books.
Subscribers to the Kindle Unlimited service can read e-books, including “The Hunger Games” and “Life of Pi,” on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader or any device with a Kindle app. Subscribers also have access to thousands of audio books. The launch of Kindle Unlimited comes as Amazon remains mired in a months-long contract dispute with the No. 4 U.S. publisher Hachette Book Group, owned by France’s Lagardere, over how to price e-books. Amazon is also in talks about digital book pricing with Simon & Schuster, owned by CBS Corp.
Amazon’s move to offer the Kindle Unlimited service reflects consumers’ growing preference toward subscription-based models for consuming digital media, such as Netflix Inc for movies and television shows and Spotify for music.
The new Amazon service will compete with others in the market, including Oyster, which charges $9.95 per month for unlimited access to more than 500,000 titles.
In an interview, Oyster’s co-founder Eric Stromberg said he was not surprised by Amazon’s move but that his company’s partnership with major publishers gave Oyster a higher-quality catalog.
“They’ve tried to pivot from transaction to subscription-based in other forms of media – music, movies, kids’ books – and had limited success,” Stromberg said of Amazon.
“Through our partnerships with Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster, two of the largest publishers in the world, we’re able to deliver to our audience a vast and deep catalog of the best books in the world,” he said.
Amazon, which drove the growth of e-books after launching the Kindle in 2007, has branched out into other forms of digital content in recent years. It offers streaming video and music for members of its Prime program and is developing original content.
Unlike its other streaming services, Amazon does not require Kindle Unlimited users to be Prime members, who pay $99 a year for free two-day shipping in addition to content.
The combative negotiations between Amazon and Hachette have set the publishing world on edge. Earlier this year, Amazon delayed delivery of some Hachette titles, including sought-after print versions and, at one point, it removed a pre-order option for “The Silkworm,” by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith.
Hachette authors James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Colbert have openly criticized Amazon for its tactics. Amazon responded by saying its goal was to maintain low prices and a high level of service for its customers.
(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Additional reporting by Jennifer Saba; Editing by Paul Simao and Jan Paschal)
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
Giuliani’s public invitation to Ukraine to interfere in US elections opened the door for other countries to run to Trump
President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani turned heads with his bizarre, unhinged rant on national television that effectively urged Ukraine to continue trying to gather dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden — and for news outlets to take whatever they find seriously.
As Casey Michel wrote in The Daily Beast, even if this effort ultimately fails to turn up useful opposition research against Biden, this is a profoundly dangerous development for American democracy.
Trump whistleblower needs to go directly to FBI because Bill Barr can’t be trusted: Ex-FBI director
Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi blew up Donald Trump's claim that he is the victim of a "Ukraine Witchhunt."
He then added that the whistleblower who went to the inspector general with a serious charge against the president should take what he has and go to the FBI within a week if nothing happens.
"We've got to get to the bottom of this, and we can't rely on leaks and certain reporters getting certain tidbits of information," the ex-FBI man explained. "This needs to be explored and it's likely this could end up in a criminal investigation."
Furious Biden goes scorched earth on ‘serial abuser’ Trump over smears in epic rant
On Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, former Vice President Joe Biden furiously laid into President Donald Trump amid reports he tried to strong-arm the Ukrainian government into digging up dirt on him and his son.
"Here's what I know, I know Trump deserves to be investigated," said Biden. "He is violating every basic norm of a president. You should be asking him the question, why is he on the phone with a foreign leader trying to intimidate a foreign leader, if that's what happened? That appears to have happened. You should be looking at Trump. Trump's doing this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum and he's using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me."