You Better Book It

24 01 2012

Every once in a while I have an idea that I think might actually stand a chance in the marketplace. Last fall I proposed the idea that ebooks could just as easily be made available via streaming subscriptions like Netflix (movies) or Rhapsody and Spotify (music). It’s not that we aren’t already enamored of ereaders (yesterday we found it that 29% of Americans now own one).

But like we learned from Netflix, et al, we really do not need to own any content. All we really want is to have access to it.

And that’s where a subscription model works great. Goodbye, iTunes. It was nice being to buy songs for 99 cents apiece, but I can listen to several million different songs for $10 a month.

Or watch about 8000 different movies on Netflix for another $8.

Which is why I nearly fell out of bed this morning while reading Mashable on my iPad (I told you I sleep with the darn thing) about how Audiobooks.com is offering streaming audio books for $25 a month.

Sure, there are only 11,000 titles currently available, And let’s not forget that rival Amazon already has a streaming service of its own, although it does differ substantially in how it works.

Still, the very idea that audio book fans can now take thousands of titles with them wherever they go is appealing beyond measure. Add in music and movies, and our little phones have become Hastings-in-a-pocket.

In fact, the prospects for streaming ebooks is one that Hastings really should explore. It would be a differential advantage (for the time being, at least) over other tangible and ebook vendors. Imagine being able to say you have 13 million books in your library…and yet you have neither paper nor megabytes. Just access.

I liked this idea a few months ago. I love it now. And to be fair, I am sure I am not the only one with this idea. I just hope someone with the cash and servers can make it all happen. Soon.

Because not only are my book shelves filled to overflowing, but my iPad is also rapidly filling up. Streaming ebooks would solve the problem of what to do with a book after you have finished reading it. Sure, you could keep it, but many folks also like to sell their tangible books when they are done with them. You cannot do that with ebooks. Streaming, though, opens all kinds of possibilities. I would happily pay $25, even $50, a month for such a subscription, because I easily purchase that much or more in books of all kinds in the same time period.

I realize that technology is systematically wiping out my guilty pleasure purchases, but I can’t say that I disagree with it. Renting trumps ownership when access is 24/7.

So there you go. If only I had some seed money, I’t jump on this. But I have given it all to you to run and make your fortunes. It’s an idea whose time has come.

You’re welcome.

Dr “Sign Me Up” Gerlich

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