Amazon in Talks to Roll Out E-Book Library Service

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Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) is reportedly in talks with publishers to introduce an e-book service similar in scope to Netflix, expanding its existing Amazon Prime premium package to encompass access to digital titles across a series of devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Amazon service would offer a library of older e-book titles, similar to the catalog films and television programming available free to Amazon Prime users. Priced at $79 per year, the Amazon Prime service most notably offers unlimited two-day shipping on all products sold and processed by the e-commerce giant, excluding items offered by third-party sellers. Amazon would offer publishers a substantial fee for their participation in the program, sources say, adding the company may also limit the number of free titles consumers can read each month.

The Journal report adds that publisher enthusiasm for the service is uncertain. Several publishing execs are said to be wary, fearing it could diminish the value of their titles while also straining their relationships with other booksellers. Amazon did not respond to the WSJ's requests for comment.

Amazon.com's existing Kindle Store offers more than 950,000 e-books, including the vast majority of current New York Times Bestsellers. Over 800,000 Kindle titles are priced at $9.99 or less. Amazon now sells more Kindle books than hardcover and softcover volumes combined: As of April 1, Amazon consumers purchase 105 Kindle titles for every 100 print books.

Amazon is reportedly poised to unveil a tablet device developed to go head-to-head with Apple's (NAS: AAPL) market-leading iPad. Sources say the Amazon tablet will run Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android operating system. Unlike Apple, which relies on content from its iTunes digital media storefront and App Store to boost sales of hardware like the iPhone and iPad, Amazon is looking to the tablet to boost consumer interest in premium digital media.

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