Monday, January 7, 2008

Ebook Rentals

This post over the weekend on the Kindle News blog asks an interesting question: Why not rent-a-book for Kindle/Sony? If it makes sense for the movie industry one could argue the model would also work in the book world.

The lone comment made on this post asks the million dollar question: What price would you use? If a rental model dramatically expands the audience it's easy to see where authors and publishers might get excited, assuming the rental price makes sense. I'd like to take it a step further: Why not add an affiliate component so that if I rent a book and like it, I tell my friends and if they rent it as well I get a small cut of their transaction. This creates a nice incentive to tell your friends and make it more viral. A Facebook app like iRead could leverage this sort of approach, for example.

But it all comes down to making the numbers work, right? If the rental price is low the audience needs to be huge. It's also likely to be less useful for a reference guide than a novel, of course, but definitely worth consideration as the market for e-readers grows.