Amazon.co.uk founder takes on video rental industry

LONDON - Simon Murdoch, who launched Amazon in the UK, is taking on the high-street DVD rental market with the launch of an online business that he says will reinvent the industry.

For a fee of £14.99 a month, subscribers to Screenselect.co.uk will have access to all the DVDs they can watch. There are no late fees, with users allowed a revolving library of three DVDs, delivered through the post.

Once a movie has been watched, users can return it in a pre-paid envelope. When it has been received by Screenselect, another film from the users' wishlist will be dispatched. There is currently a library of 12,500 DVDs to choose from.

Murdoch, who founded the online bookshop Bookpages, which he sold to Amazon.com in 1998, said that such a service was long overdue.

"With Screenselect.co.uk, there are no more late trips to the video store, no more frantic runs to avoid late fees, no more queuing or hassles to find a movie and no more traffic, parking ticket or weather issues," he said.

Murdoch says that the service aims to change people's habits. He hopes to emulate the success of US home-delivery DVD service Netflix, as well as taking on UK competitors including Movietrak and Webflix.

Screenselect has signed a deal with DVD player manufacturers to include information about the service in the packaging of machines and Murdoch says that the multi-year deal should see leaflets go out with millions of players. There will also be inserts about Screenselect in relevant magazines.

Working alongside Murdoch are Bagelmania founder Alex Chesterman, who takes the role of executive chairman, and William Reeve, managing director.

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