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Amazon tests 'Spotify' service for ebook readers

Amazon tests ‘Spotify’ service for ebook readers

18 July 2014

The Times - by James Dean, Technology Correspondant

An unlimited supply of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings novels could soon be made available to Kindle ebook readers under a subscription service being tested by Amazon.

According to marketing information leaked online, the service, Kindle Unlimited, will cost $9.99 (£5.85) a month for unlimited access to 640,000 titles and more than 7,000 audiobooks.

Amazon, which sells a third of all books in the United States, appears to be imitating the model used by Spotify, the streaming music subscription service. In the UK, Spotify charges users £9.99 a month for unlimited access to a vast catalogue of music, which they can stream on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Amazon would not be the first company to introduce an ebook subscription service. It would join Scribd, which costs $8.99 a month, Oyster, which costs $9.95 a month, and Entitle, which offers two ebooks a month for $9.99. Amazon’s catalogue is larger than any of its competitors.

Richard Mollet, the chief executive of the Publishers Association, said it was essential that any subscription-based publishing service should ensure that authors were properly rewarded.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. It did not comment about Kindle Unlimited to any media outlet, prompting speculation that the leak was a marketing stunt.

A promotional video from the retailer, obtained by the technology website GigaOm, dropped hints about Kindle Unlimited’s library. The video featured books from the Hunger Games and Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and well-known titles including Life of Pi and Animal Farm. None of the books that featured on Amazon’s promotional video is published by the “big five” publishers: Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, which is part of News Corporation, the owner of The Times.

Amazon briefly uploaded a Kindle Unlimited test website that listed books published by its own imprints, such as Skyscape and Thomas & Mercer. There were also books listed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which allows members of Amazon’s Prime subscription service to “borrow” ebooks.

Scribd gives access to 400,000 books from more than 900 publishers. Oyster boasts a library of 500,000 books and Entitle has 200,000.

Amazon has been accused of abusing its dominant position by withdrawing books from sale while it argues with publishers over pricing. It has also been criticised for routing billions of pounds through its small office in Luxembourg to reduce its tax bill in Britain. The practice is legal.

Apple agreed on Wednesday to pay more than $400 million to American authorities to settle allegations of ebook price-fixing. The company had been accused of conspiring to inflate the prices of ebooks. A spokeswoman for Apple said: “We did nothing wrong.”ondant

An unlimited supply of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings novels could soon be made available to Kindle ebook readers under a subscription service being tested by Amazon.

According to marketing information leaked online, the service, Kindle Unlimited, will cost $9.99 (£5.85) a month for unlimited access to 640,000 titles and more than 7,000 audiobooks.

Amazon, which sells a third of all books in the United States, appears to be imitating the model used by Spotify, the streaming music subscription service. In the UK, Spotify charges users £9.99 a month for unlimited access to a vast catalogue of music, which they can stream on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Amazon would not be the first company to introduce an ebook subscription service. It would join Scribd, which costs $8.99 a month, Oyster, which costs $9.95 a month, and Entitle, which offers two ebooks a month for $9.99. Amazon’s catalogue is larger than any of its competitors.

Richard Mollet, the chief executive of the Publishers Association, said it was essential that any subscription-based publishing service should ensure that authors were properly rewarded.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. It did not comment about Kindle Unlimited to any media outlet, prompting speculation that the leak was a marketing stunt.

A promotional video from the retailer, obtained by the technology website GigaOm, dropped hints about Kindle Unlimited’s library. The video featured books from the Hunger Games and Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and well-known titles including Life of Pi and Animal Farm. None of the books that featured on Amazon’s promotional video is published by the “big five” publishers: Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, which is part of News Corporation, the owner of The Times.

Amazon briefly uploaded a Kindle Unlimited test website that listed books published by its own imprints, such as Skyscape and Thomas & Mercer. There were also books listed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which allows members of Amazon’s Prime subscription service to “borrow” ebooks.

Scribd gives access to 400,000 books from more than 900 publishers. Oyster boasts a library of 500,000 books and Entitle has 200,000.

Amazon has been accused of abusing its dominant position by withdrawing books from sale while it argues with publishers over pricing. It has also been criticised for routing billions of pounds through its small office in Luxembourg to reduce its tax bill in Britain. The practice is legal.

Apple agreed on Wednesday to pay more than $400 million to American authorities to settle allegations of ebook price-fixing. The company had been accused of conspiring to inflate the prices of ebooks. A spokeswoman for Apple said: “We did nothing wrong.”

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