I was honestly thinking about this last night, but rebjy spotted something that indicates maybe I’m not the only one who thinks it might be plausible. The idea would be for a publisher, say Penguin, to offer an ebook Reader + book bundle subscription rent to own model. You could run this so many different ways. Here are two:
1. The DSL model. In order to get high speed wireless internet access in your home, you often need a router. The cable modem folks charge you a fee for the wireless access and a fee for the router that you are “renting.” Publishers could do this as well. They would charge you a monthly access fee to their online catalog which would get you a set number of free books (maybe 2-3) with the remaining catalog available at a discount. Then they would charge you a fee for the device itself. $25? $35?
2. The Cell Phone model. In exchange for a two year agreement, the cell phone provider gives you a discount on the cell phone. Sometimes it is free and sometimes it is available at a reduced rate. Publishers could ask you to sign a two year agreement. In exchange, you would get a free or discounted eBook Reader and then for a monthly fee, access to a certain number of books.
I read somewhere (and I don’t have the link at the tip of my fingers) that for the cost of printing, shipping and delivering the print version of the NYT, the Times could give a Kindle away to every subscriber. What do you think?