As I shopped at Wal-Mart today, I passed by a display of $5 DVDs. I recalled having paid $89 for the first movie (VHS) I ever bought, one of my all-time favorites. I had no reason to pay even $5 for one of these DVDs given that I already subscribe to streaming Netflix, and if a movie I wish to view is not streaming, I can have it mailed to me as part of my subscription service.
Book ownership (i.e., purchases) may soon follow the path of the VHS and DVD.
Amazon is considering a Netflix-like service that would let people pay an annual fee to get book "rentals," according to a published report.
Rather than go to either a bricks-and-mortar or online bookstore, or better yet, buy an e-text version online, I can just download a copy as a rental from Amazon.com. This is apparently - and needlessly - scaring publishers.
Quoting "people familiar with the matter," the Journal said some publishers worry that such a service would cut down on the number of people buying books and hurt their relationships with other distributors.
Video rental stores vastly expanded the sales of DVDs following the introction of video rental stores, in large part from sales to rental outlets. Some rental outlets also paid large royalties to movie companies. The same would be true of books from Amazon renting online versions. Taking up Amazon on their offer to rent Kindle versions of their books will a) increase the number of their books read (i.e., demand and quantity demanded); and b) produce royalties for their products at zero marginal cost to the company.
The real question is, will movie companies still be around in ten years?