Will the Netflix model work for books and clothes?

Yahoo Finance

Want a Netflix-type (NFLX) service for books or your closet? Well, companies have recently announced both.

Amazon (AMZN) Friday unveiled a digital subscription service offering unlimited e-books and audiobooks for $10 a month, called Kindle Unlimited. The service will give subscribers access to some 600,000 e-books; however, none of the biggest five publishers appear to be taking part, according to the New York Times.

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And fashion startup Rent the Runway last week at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference announced it's expanding beyond special occasion dresses to offer an unlimited service, where, for a $75 monthly fee, a customer can choose three everyday designer clothing items to rent. When the customer is through with one item, she mails it back for another, similar to the Netflix DVD rental business.

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But are these services good deals for customers? We talk to Yahoo Finance Tech Reporter Aaron Pressman in the accompanying video. He says that when it comes to the books Amazon is offering, "there are some famous ones, but not everything is there [including] major authors." However, compared to smaller startups offering similar services, Amazon always has "this amazing end-to-end customer experience." He points to technology that allows you to pick up where you left off in your e-book on your audiobook with Kindle Unlimited, conceding -- "that's pretty cool."

For Rent the Runway, Pressman says he spoke to CEO Jennifer Hyman at the Fortune conference and her company has created a platform (which has made it reportedly the largest dry cleaner in the U.S., by the way), so they're "going to do a lot more things."

In terms of any broader economic or business trends these types of services represent, Pressman says they may illustrate the clash between our society, where we venerate celebrities but find it harder and harder to afford the high life they represent. He says companies are "bringing luxury down to the middle class," but if these businesses start catching on, it may be a "sign people are pulling in the horns a little bit on their actual spending." 

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