Netflix For WatchingWe've had Netflix since the launch in Canada (no cable or satellite TV). We get great value for our $8 a month. Thanks to fast unlimited internet, we don't have to worry about bandwidth considerations.
Netflix works because of the large selection and low price. Thanks to Canadian innovations MoreFlicks and Unblock US, we can access Netflix titles from other countries. How can you not get your money’s worth?
This same model may not work for other services.
Netflix for LearningWe can learn by reading and listening. Here are ways.
Magazines: Next IssueNext Issue (US, Canada) gives you unlimited access to all issues of 100+ magazines for $15 a month. This might sound like a great deal but is it? You can certainly browse many titles. Would you?
There is already so much content available online for free. You already get a personalized magazine-like feel with services like Google Currents, Flipboard, Vu and Zite. When you’re looking for something, it’s much easier to do a web search than to go to the magazine’s website. I’m more interested in the article than the publication. I like looking at different sources, including blogs.
How much do you spend on magazines today? For us it's about $50 a year. With Next Issue, the price jumps to $180 a year. We'd be spending much more than we currently do. Why? It’s not as if we have hours of extra time for the extra reading. Does Next Issue look appealing to you? I’d rather spend the money upgrading my mobile data plan.
Books: Oyster and ScribdIf you read books, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars a year. And get stuck with titles that simply aren't very good. No refund. A flat fee subscription has appeal. You get to browse without penalty. Since the publishers get paid based on how much of a book you read, they bear the risk for lousy content.
The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library has 350,000 titles as part of Amazon Prime for $79/year. There are two new options with 100,000 titles: Oyster ($10/month) and Scribd ($9/month). These choices are US-only at the moment.
Not all publishers are participating, which limits the selection. As with Netflix, you won't get the newest releases until later. That's fine with me because I've already got too much to read.
Audiobooks: noneI’m a big fan of listening to books but there’s no all-you-can listen service now that audiobooks.com switched to the unsatisfying Audible model of a title per month. Their price of $25/month looks too high. You can skim books but not audiobooks. A lower price makes sense.
Why should audiobooks cost more than magazines? Why should magazines cost more than ebooks? Why should they all cost more than Netflix?
I'd love to see a service which offers both ebooks and audiobooks for a reasonable price. I like listening while commuting and having the ebook for making notes. Given the pace of innovation (or copying Netflix) that may happen soon.
direct link | Internet Archive page | iTunes
PS For a free “Netflix for learning”, visit your public library in person or online.