Welcome to Friday Debate, a feature on cup of tea with that book, please, where every Friday a question will be posted that tantalize the brain and expands our horizons. For this week’s question: Continue reading “Friday Debate: Reading Across Formats”
The company that was tagged the “Netflix for books” is closing the book. Literally.
Oyster announced that there online book subscription service will be shutting down and offering refunds to their customers over the next few weeks. As reported:
The news comes as a bit of a surprise—Oyster was one of the major players in the e-book subscription space along with San Francisco startup Scribd and Amazon, which offers all-you-can eat reading through Kindle Unlimited. Unlike Amazon, however, Oyster had the backing of the Big Five publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster—who offered their books on the service. (The Big Five also work with Scribd.) The e-book subscription business model is based on paying publishers a sum of money after “a fair portion” of a book is read, as well as sharing anonymized reading activity with publishers to help them target readers.”
Unfortunately, this is not a surprise. With better services out there (*cough* your public library), these type of online book subscriptions don’t appear to have a viable future. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Scribd are still continuing, but you have to wonder for how long.
To read the full article, you can find it here.
I thought this news report would mix well with this week’s Weekly Tea Discussion.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal:
When the world’s largest publishers struck e-book distribution deals with Amazon.com Inc. over the past several months, they seemed to get what they wanted: the right to set the prices of their titles and avoid the steep discounts the online retail giant often applies.
But in the early going, that strategy doesn’t appear to be paying off. Three big publishers that signed new pacts with Amazon— Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, News Corp ’s HarperCollins Publishers and CBS Corp. ’s Simon & Schuster—reported declining e-book revenue in their latest reporting periods.
“The new business model for e-books is having a significant impact on what [the big] publishers report,” said one publishing executive. “There’s no question that publishers’ net receipts have gone down.”
A recent snapshot of e-book prices found that titles in the Kindle bookstore from the five biggest publishers cost, on average, $10.81, while all other 2015 e-books on the site had an average price of $4.95, according to industry researcher Codex Group LLC.
“Since book buyers expect the price of a Kindle e-book to be well under $9, once you get to over $10 consumers start to say, ‘Let me think about that,’” said Codex CEO Peter Hildick-Smith.”
If you noticed by the infograph created by the newspaper, you really see no difference in pricing between an e-book and a hardcover:
This is why my purchasing of ebooks has decreased. There really isn’t that much of a difference. You might as well buy the hard copy.
Publishers fought so hard for the right to set e-book prices. They won but I can’t help but think they ended up being the losers in the situation.
As publishers game out e-book pricing, the stakes are high for authors and agents. “I want my clients’ books to be sold for as high a value as possible, but the important word is sold,” said Richard Pine, an agent at Inkwell Management.”
To read the full article, you can find it here.
It was bound to happen. When the popularity of the streaming service, Netflix started to increase, very likely someone would come out and say, “what about a subscription service for books?” This allure of having unlimited access to certain products or form of entertainment was bound to approach our beloved books. So let’s take the time to list the book subscription services that are catching up with the trend:
Oyster Unlimited: Unlimited access for $9.95/month to over 1 million bestsellers and also has an Oyster store where you can purchase a book that is not under the Oyster Unlimited program.
Scribd: Unlimited books, audiobooks, and comics on any device …all for $8.99/month.
Those are just to name a few.
People love to read romance novels, but unfortunately it is not receiving the same affection from the online book subscription, Scribd.
Scribd, like Netflix or Spotify, offers an unlimited library of books, ebooks, and comic books. This is a great model but when the company shells out more money to authors than what they make back in subscription fees, this can be problematic, especially towards a genre that is heavily read.
So in a released letter, Scribd announced that to ensure a substantial business model, the company may have to cut some romance titles from their collection. The statement reads:
We’ve grown to a point where we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to expand the overall size and variety of our service. We will be making some adjustments, particularly to romance, and as a result some previously available titles may no longer be available.”
In simple terms…subscribers are reading too much, particularly romance books, and simply can’t afford that.
What did you expect when you offered unlimited reading for a low price? It’s like Netflix saying, “People are watching too many comedies so we decide to cut TV and movie comedies from our catalog”.
Most likely expecting backlash from this decision, Scribd CEO Trip Adler asserts the company’s commitment to readers with this response:
“Let me state loudly and clearly that we remain committed to our romance audience. We’ve grown to such a point that we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to grow in a sustainable way. We are in the subscription business for the long haul, and while we are facing some growing pains today, we remain fully committed to our readers.”
I know they have to think about their business model but how is signaling out one popular genre showing commitment to your readers? Maybe they should have done survey to see which genre readers read the most before launching the service.
Here are two articles discussing the issue in detail:
Libraries and publishers, a very tenuous relationship. Both institutions are vital in this book market, especially with the number of booksellers decreasing and Amazon becoming a larger book retailer, but lacking a physical space. You would think with these downfall, both libraries and publishers would be working together. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Libraries are considered the bottom of the totem pole in publishers’ eyes so they receive very little help and publicity from the publishing industry. Strange, right? Libraries are like a free marketing and promotion tool that publishers can use. So why aren’t mainstream publishers taking advantage of this opportunity?