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The Wall Street Journal reports that “is talking with book publishers about launching a Netflix Inc.-like service for digital books, in which customers would pay an annual fee to access a library of content.”

The story suggests that Amazon would mostly include backlist, or older books, in the program, and is likely to put the service under the Amazon Prime umbrella as a value-added for people who pay $79 a year for expedited “free” shipping and access to a digital library of television shows and movies. The service could be announced at the same time as Amazon releases its new tablet computer, which has rumored for months, and that would be positioned to compete with the iPad.

The Journal writes that “the proposal is another sign that retailers are looking for more ways to deliver content digitally, as customers increasingly read books and watch TV on computers, tablets and other electronic devices.”

Not everyone apparently likes the idea, according to the Journal: “Several publishing executives said they aren't enthusiastic about the idea because they believe it could lower the value of books and because it could strain their relationships with other retailers that sell their books, they said.”

The Boston Globe reports that “with its popular Kindle, Amazon would have almost a lock down on the e-book market should it launch this service.”
KC's View:
It is all about “locking down” consumers ... which is the same thing as taking them out of the marketplace and making sure they are not in play for other retailers to attract.

That strikes me as something that out to be a strategic imperative for more retailers - asking themselves how they can “lock down” their shoppers, demonstrate their loyalty to those shoppers, and insuring that they are not in play. If you don’t do that, not only do you leave shoppers in play, but you potentially leave money on the table. Which is dangerous. Especially these days.