You know what Kindle Unlimited is, right? And maybe even Scribd? They’re book subscription services. They’re really the only players in the business at the moment. And I imagine it staying that way for some time.
Oyster was the third player, and now they’re no more. Which isn’t surprising when you really think about it. Are people really clamoring to read the books available in these subscription services? I don’t think so. And the Big 5 contracts they did have only allowed for them to list older titles. Quite frankly, I think the idea of a book subscription service is pretty dumb. I’m not into reading current titles, but I know SO many people are. They want to read books released in the last year or two. Not something from 1997. Once they couldn’t get significant deals with the major publishers, they should have realized what would ultimately happen. How many people does it take to see that Oyster was doomed from the start? I don’t have an answer.
There is a positive. The founders are headed to Google. So there’s that.
What do you think of Oyster shutting down? I’ve expected it to happen since I first found out about them. The service just isn’t something I think people want.
On this day in 2014 I published Take Your Pick: Hardcovers v. Paperbacks.
Last week I wrote about how Amazon has changed the way royalties are paid out to authors when their books are borrowed from Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. They went from paying out a royalty when a reader read 10 percent of a particular book to paying out a royalty per page. I applauded the system because it’s more fair than the previous one. Now we’re given a prime example of what happens when you use a traditional royalty payment system for borrowed books.
Scribd does. They pay out a royalty for every book borrowed, regardless of how many pages are read. And it’s coming back to bite them in the you know what. They announced last week that they will be removing many romance and erotic titles basically because they can’t afford to keep paying the royalties. People are reading them too much and the $8.99 a month subscribers pay just isn’t going to cut it. So, titles are being removed from their catalog.
Now think about this. What if you subscribed to one of these services (Kindle Unlimited & Oyster being the other two) and your genre of preference is romance. And you’re reading along every month enjoying all these romance novels. And then the service decides to remove thousands of books that all happen to be in your favorite genre. Wouldn’t that be a little irritating? I think so. And it just goes to show that a traditional royalty system is not the answer to subscription based book services.
What do you think about Scribd having to remove romance titles because people are reading them too much?
Another thing that I credit WordPress for bringing me into the loop about are the two Netflix for books type companies that have joined the e-book fun recently. Hopefully if you’re reading this you have some idea as to what I’m talking about. You don’t? Okay. The two companies I’m talking about are Scribd and Oyster. Like I said, Netflix for books is really all you need to know about them. But both companies are limited to a set number of devices. I think only iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, and the various Apple and Android smartphones. You’ll notice no regular Kindle reading devices.
Before I continue, you all should be well aware by now that although I own a Kindle, I’ve never been a big user. I’ve read perhaps 20 books all the way through in the time I’ve had it (3+ years). I did read the last two THG books and also more recently The Fault in Our Stars. But those are the rare cases. I’m all for buying the paperback edition of my books so I can store them on my shelves right here next to me as I write this. I’ve read so much about people with too many books that they donate or give them away. I can tell you that I’ll never do this. Ever. So now you have an idea about how much I love my own books.
With all that being said, the announcement just this week that Amazon is in the testing phases of its own reading subscription service caught my attention. People say they have no money, but I really don’t. I work weekends and the little money I do make is gone rather quickly, but even I can afford $9.99 a month to read books. And I could still easily buy the books I really want because $9.99 is essentially the price of one book, so it’s not like price of the service would be astronomical.
I have to say it, Amazon first flipped the publishing industry on its head when it first released the Kindle just a few short years ago. And I think they’re about to do it again. Millions of readers read on their Kindle devices every single day. This service will be heaven on earth for all of those people. According to an article I read, Amazon doesn’t yet have any titles from any of the Big 5 publishers. Assuming this is eventually worked out (crossing my fingers) I’ll gladly fork over $9.99 a month for this service. Why now and not before with one of the other ones already available? Because who wants to read books on their phone? (I don’t have an iPad)
If Amazon is able to bring this service to market, I’ll definitely take part. Will you?
You can read a short article on the service here.