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Amazon was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

Publishers are understood to be having mixed reactions to the concept, which has proved to be a successful model for digital movie rentals, as proven by the popular US film service, Netflix.

Amazon is believed to have offered book publishers a large fee for joining the service. However, the negotiations are said to still be in their early stages. The Seattle-based technology company, which is expected to imminently launch a tablet device to rival Apple’s iPad, has also said that the digital ebook library would feature older titles and be accessible to those who pay for $79 a year for Amazon Prime, the service which allows people unlimited two-day shipping and films and TV shows on demand.

One US publishing executive told The Wall Street Journal: “What it [the digital book rental service] would do is downgrade the value of the book business.”

Digital book rental services already exist, with sites like booksfree.com and bookswim.com having been live for some time. However, these services send out the physical books to their customers, rather than just offering limited ebook access.

Source: Telegraph news