Two Amazon initiatives that were once seen as major disruptions to business-as-usual practices are being discontinued. PW has learned that the company is ending its print textbook rental program, which was established about a decade ago, and will phase out print and digital magazine and newspaper subscriptions as well.
The print textbook rental program will wind down over the course of the spring semester. Amazon’s digital textbook rental program will not be affected by the shutdown and it will also continue to sell new and used textbooks. Altogether, Amazon will still have about 2 million textbooks for sale or rent.
Print and digital magazine and newspaper subscriptions and single-issue sales available on Kindle Newsstand will also be wound down next year. Amazon had been offering print magazine subscriptions for sale in the U.S., and digital magazine and newspaper subscriptions and single issues for sale in the U.S. and three other markets. A selection of magazines and newspapers, believed to number in the hundreds, will continue to be included in Kindle Unlimited.
An Amazon spokesperson said discontinuing the programs was part of the company’s annual process of reviewing how different businesses are performing. “Following an assessment of our print textbook rentals and our magazine and newspaper subscriptions and single-issue sales, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue these services,” said spokesperson Lindsay Hamilton in a statement. “We don’t take these decisions lightly, and are winding down these offerings in a phased manner over several months. We will continue to support customers, sellers, and publishers during that time.”
The winding down of these programs also comes as part of a companywide initiative to cut costs as sales growth has slowed following more than two years of booming revenue gains fueled by higher online ordering caused by the pandemic. Earlier this fall, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy confirmed that the companywide cuts involved eliminating some jobs in its books business. And even as publishers reported lower sales to Amazon for much of the summer, Amazon executives continue to stress it remains committed to the book business. Some publishers have reported that Amazon orders have improved this fall.