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reed hastings

Would A Netflix-Like Model Work For eBooks From Amazon?

Today Amazon announced a new all-you-can-stream offering to Amazon Prime members, which now gives those members that pay $79 a year for free two day shipping on all orders the chance to stream TV and movies for free.

The offer is kind of cool, but it raises questions. First, is the rise is eBook sales making Amazon less able to sell Amazon Prime memberships? After all, if you are buying more eBooks, than print, is it worth spending $79 a year for a more convenient shipping offer. (Maybe, if you use Amazon to buy more than books).

Secondly, while its nice to have streamable online movies, Amazon’s 5,000 title catalog is pretty meager compared to Netflix which boasts more than 100,000 titles. What would be appealing to Amazon users on the other hand, would be a Netflix service for eBooks. Perhaps you pay $10 a month (or $79 a year) and have access to a catalog of popular titles from publishers (similar to Netflix, content would likely grow over time). Perhaps you get two books at a time for as long as you like. Fast readers would be motivated to read a ton, and swap out their queque, while slow readers might keep eBooks around for a couple of weeks or months, like a Netflix DVD sitting on top of the TV.

While there are various eBook sharing sites around, having a fully fledged Amazon eBook rental system would change the playing field. It could be a great motivator for Amazon to sell more Kindles, and if publishers are paid well, a good motivation for Amazon to buy bulk copies of an eBook, the way that Netflix does with DVDs.

It might not actually hurt eBook sales, as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has often said that the Netflix user is different than a DVD buyer. Book buyers might still want to own their eBook (or print) titles for reference, but this kind of service could get nonreaders reading more. The subscription model is getting popular among media companies on the iPad.

Do you think this model would work?

Fortune 2010 Business Person of the Year: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is a cover boy — specifically, the cover of Fortune, as he was named the magazine’s 2010 Business Person of the Year.

Other tech and media movers and shakers to crack the list of 50 included Apple CEO Steve Jobs (No. 3), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (No. 4), Baidu CEO Robin Li (No. 6), Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (No. 7), Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos (No. 10), Google CEO Eric Schmidt (No. 11), Zynga CEO Mark Pincus (No. 12), IBM CEO Sam Palmisano (No. 15), salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff (No. 18), Andreessen Horowitz general partner Marc Andreessen (No. 19), Disney CEO Bob Iger (No. 22), Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (No. 24), Pandora founder Tim Westergren (No. 26), Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes (No. 27), DirecTV CEO Michael White (No. 32), Samsung Electronics CEO Geesung Choi (No. 39), Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (No. 43), and Mail.ru Group CEO Yuri Milner (No. 46).

Fortune reporter Peter Newcomb wrote on Hastings:

What does it take to be at the top of business in 2010? We searched for leaders who didn’t just crawl from the wreckage of the Great Recession, but sprinted from it. This year, Hastings has thrown his company’s muscle behind delivering television and movies over the Internet, risking his $2 billion-in-sales DVD-by-mail business. The result: a company that has grown from a gnat to a giant. Now when deals are made in media, the increasingly important question is, “What’s the Netflix piece?”

And Hastings told Fortune:

We are in a new race, and we are a player with some very large and substantial firms. Just to be in that league is an amazing place from where we were.

Web 2.0 Summit Panels Available for Streaming, Embedding

The Web 2.0 Summit, taking place at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco Monday-Wednesday, will offer live coverage for streaming and embedding free-of-charge, the conference’s organizers, O’Reilly Media and UBM TechWeb, announced Monday.

Speakers at the three-day event will include Google CEO Eric Schmidt, The Chernin Group founder Peter Chernin, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment co-CEO Ariel Emanuel, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Gilt Groupe chairman Susan Lyne, Digital Sky Technologies CEO Yuri Milner, and Qatalyst Partners founder and head of merchant banking Frank Quattrone.

The Diamond Sponsor of the Web 2.0 Summit is Comcast. Platinum Sponsors are Bing, BlackBerry, Dell, and Yahoo!. Silver Sponsors of the event are Canaan Partners, iStockphoto, Ixaris, Meebo, Quova, TokBox, Unity Medical, and Visa. And Supporting Sponsors are Aperture, Ask.com, Omidyar Network, SendGrid, TriNet HR, and Wyse Technology.