I’ve been thinking about and discussing my eBook idea with just about anyone who would listen over the past few weeks. I believe it’s a good idea but I don’t think we will be seeing it anytime soon.
There is good news though! I was able to speak with two different people at Amazon. Two weeks ago I filled out this form contacting Amazon’s Corporate Gift Card division. I started there because I think their system of Gift Codes on Demand could play a role in implementing my idea. I didn’t expect to hear from them. So, I was more than surprised when, a few days later, I got a call from one of their representatives. He seemed like a nice guy and we discussed the problem libraries are facing with eBooks (especially Kindles) and how I was interested in seeing if there was any possibility of working with Amazon to try something new. He was receptive but thought I would be better served by talking with someone in the Kindle group. He promised to forward my information and idea to someone in that division. I hung up the phone and thought that I’d be lucky to get an email from them saying “Thanks, but we’re busy and don’t have time for you.” I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email from someone in the Kindle division wanting to schedule a time to talk to me. Wow!
Tuesday September 14th I spoke with a representative from the Kindle division. He was receptive to my idea but was pretty clear that they would not be pursuing it. It was clear to me that they are not in a position with the publishers/authors to negotiate a completely different kind of model of use. They are still working on the basic – customer purchases one copy of a book – model and have not really thought of a library type of lending model. I was assured that if they got to the point where they were interested in courting libraries he would let me know. During our conversation I mentioned that if Amazon decided to move into the library market they could dominate it in a few years. They have the largest eBook selection (over 700,000) and a pretty good eAudiobook selection. They have a good user experience and, if they could get the publishers on board, they would really make life difficult for Overdrive and NetLibrary. It was a good conversation and I didn’t feel like I was completely blown off. However, I do feel that I missed an opportunity to explain my idea better. I’m just not that good of a salesman.
This is a market in its infancy. Publishers and distributors have only been working on this for a few years. Many people are interested in how this new market will develop and have a stake in the outcome. Publishers, authors and distributors all want (and deserve) to get paid to produce and distribute digital content. I just wish that libraries had a more influential role in the discussions. It’s going to take someone with way more connections and clout than me to get libraries to the table.