Netflix for Kindle? II

This post expressing my desire for a Netflix-like service for Kindle-like devices continues to be one of my most popular.  Most people find it through search engines.   That’s Exhibit A that there’s interest in the idea.

My local library just announced a new ebook loan service.  The loaned ebooks can be read on most devices, except Kindle. Darn.  But, it’s still a welcome move in the right direction.

The library reported that they reached their capacity on loaning ebooks within days.  That’s Exhibit B that there’s interest in the service.

Dear  You can be the iTunes and the Netflix for ebooks.  Some people like to buy their books.  Some people like to borrow.  Some do both.   Currently, you serve one-and-half out of three value propositions (the first and half of the third), when you could serve all three.

While libraries, like mine, will get in the game, folks will find a value prop in a wider selection of titles, better queue planning and being able to use such a service with the Kindle.

As an analogy, I pay for Blockbuster Online (I still haven’t switched to Netflix mainly due to laziness), I still rent movies at the local Blockbuster and get some DVDs from the library.

P.S.  If anyone out there uses Netflix on the Wii, let me know how that works for you.  Did you have to buy extra memory or download any additional software for the Wii?

Ebook Wars

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Google is set to launch an e-book venture.  That could put some wrinkles in my Print vs. Kindle value proposition analysis.

Advice for Google:  Figure out how to put ebooks on devices that do not have to be shut off and stowed during take off and landing in airplanes.

Advice for Kindle: You have a really cool device.  Open it up to Google.

Advice for whomever wishes to make some moneyApply Netflix’s subscription model to ebooks.

Value Prop: Print vs. Kindle will be attempting to fix one advantage print has over Kindle by introducing a book loan feature (maybe my local library will be able to use this somehow). states that the loan period will be a 14 day window.  If I were designing this feature, I’d make it as true to print loaning as possible.  When you loan someone a book, you don’t have access to that book until the borrower returns it.

If you wish to give them the book, so be it. might argue that the inability to pass the book along is reflected in the lower price, but I don’t buy that.

It would be really neat to be able to gift a Kindle copy of a book away when you’re finished and then track where it goes from there.  Maybe 10 years later, you see the copy of Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell that you originally purchased was read by 20 people.  Might be a good conversation starter when you meet those people.

One other advantage print has over the Kindle is more reading time on airplanes.  With print you can read gate-to-gate.  Since Kindle is an electronic device airlines require you to turn off and stow at the beginning and end of flights, you can lose a considerable amount of reading time on planes leaving you to stare at the seat back in front of you when you could be getting in some quality reading.

It would be nice to be able to overcome this restriction.

If you plan accordingly, you can have the bulky books on the Kindle and a slim magazine to read during Kindle stow time.  But, it would be nice not to have to do that.

Black Swans and Business

My very talented artistic brother (if you need artwork, video production, computer graphics contact him) sent me this Fortune interview with Jeff Bezos, founder of

In it, Bezos expresses something that many business managers and many people do not understand.  It’s about setting your company up to benefit from Nassim Taleb’s idea of black swans, or highly improbable events.

Fortune: In the past, you’ve said that a company learns just as much as by its failures as it does by its successes. Do you still believe that?

Bezos: Well, the key is that the company has to experiment, and what you want to try and do is reduce the cost of experimentation so you can do as many experiments per unit time as possible so you can do as many experiments per week, per month, per year as you can –and they’re not experiments if you know they’re going to work.

So you want to do a lot of these experiments, and many of them will fail, and that’s okay. Because if you’re doing enough of them, there will be some winners. That’s the only mindset you can have if you want to invent. At Amazon, we’re very focused on invention.

Bezos understands that much of business success and failure is luck.

That’s difficult for smart people to believe.  Continue reading