Oct 28, 2003

how much would you pay?

To expand on a comment I left at Steven Johnson’s post about his piece at Slate about Amazon’s new search feature: how much would you pay for searching privileges on your book collection?

Assume Amazon gave you instant access to a personalized search page for books you bought through them; essentially giving you limited digital rights to books they know you’ve purchased. If you had to pay for access to others, how much would you pay, and under what operating model? Would you add additional books to your search library at $x.xx per pop? (Would a searchable version of Johnson’s Emergence be worth $0.99 to you?) Or would you opt for an O’Reilly Safari model, where you subscribe to titles in a “bookshelf” model for a monthly or annual charge?

It’s not just about funding the technology and driving revenue from the service. It could end up being about passthrough to the publishers. Thus, the O’Reilly comparison. Many book publishers are looking to build more direct relationships with their customers; Amazon offering a book search service across a critical mass of publishers is yet another hook into the customer that the publisher would have a hard time setting on their own without other tangible benefits (access to extra content, unbeatable community, etc.)…