It is now common to find Amazon.com books listed for sale on Barnes & Noble, the company’s online store.
The Kindle Unlimited service for Kindle books lets you save as many as 50 books for a single transaction, and the company offers discounts for Kindle-specific titles, like The Little Book of Beasts.
It’s an attractive deal for people who buy a lot of books, but it also puts Amazon at a disadvantage.
Amazon is currently struggling to retain a loyal audience of book buyers, who are increasingly willing to pay extra for books that are more relevant and less expensive than they were before.
“It’s a really challenging market,” says Rob Harkins, chief executive officer of the Barnes & Nobles Group.
“They want books that they can really afford to spend money on.”
Amazon has been trying to make its Kindle Unlimited program more relevant.
Last month, it launched the Kindle Unlimited Plus, a discount program that offers the same book value as Amazon’s regular Unlimited plan, but without the extra charges.
“We want to give people the flexibility to decide what they want to spend their money on,” said Harkens.
Barnes & Norris, which owns the online bookstore chain Kobo, also has an ebook program.
The company recently expanded its ebook service, the Kindle Owners Club, with a special introductory price of $2.99.
(The program is now available to those who signed up through the Kindle App store.)
“If you want to get into a new genre, or get into something that you might not have read before, or you want a different kind of content, then you can get it for the right price,” said Rob Hockins, CEO of Barnes & Knopf.
“The Kindle Unlimited owners club has always been a very good deal.”
Amazon is also expanding its publishing platform.
Amazon announced on Wednesday that it will buy the publishing company Penguin Random House for $315 million, bringing its publishing empire to more than 1,500 publishers.
“Amazon has been the industry leader in publishing since the dawn of the Internet, and our focus is to make publishing the best it can be, not the best Amazon can get,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.
“Penguin is the perfect complement to our growing team and growing books and movies business.”
Bezos, who has been a vocal proponent of online bookselling, said Amazon’s plan to buy Penguin is “a big step forward.”
Amazon says its Penguin deal is for 30 years, and that it has already surpassed the $1 billion mark in annual sales.
“Over the past year, Amazon’s books and titles business has grown exponentially and has seen unprecedented growth in both digital sales and physical sales,” said Bezos.
“Through the purchase of Penguin, we are making it possible for Amazon to focus on the books and books people want, and to make the best possible value for our readers.”
Amazon plans to make Amazon Books and Films its digital publishing platform, and is investing in other digital platforms.
Amazon also announced on Tuesday that it plans to spend $1.6 billion to buy video service Twitch.com, a move that will allow it to sell video games and other content.
“In the last year, Twitch has grown into one of the fastest-growing video platforms in the world,” said Dan Kois, Amazon vice president of business development and general counsel.
“As we expand our product offerings, we’re looking forward to continuing to innovate and build on our platform to create a new platform that offers unparalleled value to consumers and creators.”