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Amazon mulls charging for previews
27.09.10 | Graeme Neill
Amazon has reportedly applied for a patent that suggests future users of the website may have to pay to preview excerpts of books before deciding to buy it.
Techflash reports the US patent, which has Amazon c.e.o. Jeff Bezos among its inventors, forsees a scheme where customers "pay different amounts to view portions of content from the electronic form of a work".
The retailer already operates Search Inside, where a consumer can read sample pages or look for specific words or phrases.
Amazon is suggesting variable fees based on the book's genre, publisher and the customer's browsing and buying history. The patent suggests this is Amazon's equivalent of a customer flicking through a book in a bricks and mortar store but is proposing charging because of the cost of proving an electronic browsing system.
However, customers could earn credits or discounts based on what they pay to preview. One idea was for the cost of preview to be taken off the amount paid for the book.
The patent, titled "Method and apparatus to facilitate online purchase of works using paid electronic preview" was granted Sept. 21. The original application dates back to July 2004. Along with Jeff Bezos, the other inventors are Udi Manber, the former head of Amazon's search unit A9 (now at Google), and Colin Bryar.