Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) can finally point to its Kindle storefront as the Netflix of books. The leading online retailer introduced Kindle Unlimited on Thursday, a smorgasbord of e-books and digital audiobooks that bibliophiles can check out for $9.99 a month.
Amazon's starting with a strong library out of the gate, offering 600,000 books as well as thousands of audiobooks from its Audible subsidiary.
One can argue that Amazon didn't want it to be this way. It built an ecosystem based on frequent purchases of books. Would publishers and authors be open to taking less money to be part of a literary buffet? We will find out soon enough. Naturally, this is a great bargain for folks who routinely fly through books and less of a deal for the occasional reader. One can say the same thing about Netflix, cable, a day at an amusement park, and your tray at Golden Corral.
However, the same thing can also be said about Amazon Prime, but that hasn't stopped it from being a huge success for the dot-com darling. We'll know in the next few months whether e-book rentals are a viable model.
Briefly in the news
And now let's look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.
- Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) doesn't want to be left out of the Chromebook party. It revealed this week that new laptops running Windows will be available for as little as $199 later this year. Microsoft knows that high licensing costs have kept Windows 8.1 adoption in check, but giving manufacturers a break before they devote even more resources to popular Chromebooks is the smart thing to do.
- Keurig Green Mountain (NASDAQ: GMCR ) has a new K-Cup brand to push. Cafe Bustelo, the retail coffee giant popular with Hispanics for its potent blasts of Cuban cafecitos, is now available in K-Cup portion packs for Keurig single-serve brewers. Naturally, drinkers will need to pile on the milk and sugar to make it seem more authentic, but it's a smart move for Keurig Green Mountain to penetrate the country's growing Latino population.
- Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) finally has an official name for the more affordable electric car it plans to put out in three years. CEO Elon Musk told Auto Express that the car following the Model S sedan and the Model X crossover that will hit the market in a few months won't be the Model E, as many had speculated. It will be the Model 3 -- spelled out in Roman numeral form as Model III -- and it should be available come 2017.
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