In the world of digital books, it was only a matter of time before companies created eBook subscription services.
Following the subscription model of Netflix and Spotify, young start-up companies have begun to open up the eBook marketplace to subscription based services. Netflix and Spotify provide unlimited access to a library of movies/television shows or music respectively.
Scribd is a service that has been around for a few years providing access to an eclectic collection of different documents. However, recently they have signed a deal with the large publishing company HarperCollins to have their books available to Scribd customers. As more and more publishers understand how money can be made by making their books available through such a subscription service, there will be more books available. Scribd seems to have a bright future. According to their website, “Time Magazine named Scribed one of the ’10 Start-Ups that Will Change Your Life”. Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify have changed how people buy music, television show seasons, and dvds. With Netflix I don’t see a need to buy any DVDs that I may only watch once or twice, and it is generally cheaper and simpler to subscribe to a service. According to Wired Magazine the founder of Scribd, Trip Adler, was in the same class as Mark Zuckerburg that was depicted in the film The Social Network.
Adler was also interviewed by National Public Radio, NPR. In his interview, he explained how Scribd provides value to both the consumer and the publishing companies:
We thought this through on both the reader side and on the publisher’s side,” Adler says. “So on the readers’ side we want a simple value proposition where they pay a flat monthly fee and they can read whatever they want. On the publisher’s side … we made it fit their traditional models where they get paid every single time someone reads a book, so it’s almost as if they’re selling books through this service.
The publishers are paid for a book after a reader has read a certain percent of the book, and the reader is unaware of when this happens. Additionally, Greg Sterling, an analyst with Opus Research, said, “It’s good for authors if it succeeds in a widening an audience. “It almost works best as a marketing vehicle as opposed to a revenue generator.”
Scribd’s main draws are the unlimited number of books you can read from their library for the low price of $9 a month, and it’s availability on almost all devices. There is a free, one-month trial you can use to experiment with the service. Scribd touts the unlimited access to books as opening up the possibility to read a little from a several books or to try out several books until you find one you like. Generally, I don’t read several books at once by choice, and I only read one or two books a month.
Oyster Books is another eBook subscription company. The name Oyster comes from the saying that ‘the world is your oyster.’ They have over 100,00 titles. However, the website is invite only, and their service is only available on the iPhone, though iPhone apps can be used on the iPad. The service costs $9.95 a month. Some of their unique features that could make reading easier on the iPhone are their unique typeset themes. According to Van Lancker, who created and designed the app, “With the digital screen we are able to tweak everything from light-height and typeface to background texture and text-size.”
A third service is called eReatah, like a Cheetah and eReader combined. They have three different levels of subscriptions that you can pay for. They claim that you can save 25 to 60 percent in comparison to buying books from retail sites. You get access to 2, 3, or 4 books a month. Additionally, the service is about $15.00 a month.
Each of these services might be just right for certain people. For me, I don’t actually read frequently. I used to read a lot. I actually got a 34 on the reading comprehension section of the ACT. However, lately it is a little harder. So, I mostly want to read books that I hear my friends and family have read and are relatively popular. For me, it isn’t the quantity of books that a subscription has that is important to me, it is whether or not they have that one book that I want. However, if there are over a hundred thousand books there are probably a bunch that I would like just fine. If I wanted to talk about them with other people the I would just have to convince someone to read a few of them.
It seems to me that eBook subscriptions will make it easier and cheaper for more people to read more great books.