The problems with ebook subscription models

Way more people watch TV and movies and listen to music than read books or magazines. That’s why we’re starting to see that Netflix is Netflix, Spotify is Spotify, and ebook and magazine subscription sites are, well, something else.

Source: What Scribd’s growing pains mean for the future of digital content subscription models » Nieman Journalism Lab

You have to be careful of those romance novel readers.

I’ve been fascinated by the concepts of ebook monetization since self-publishing and ebook publishing became a bona fide option for mainstream publishers and authors. It’s one of the reasons I’m excited about what Merianna is doing with Harrelson Press and the ultimate direction we’ve mapped out there (more on that later).

However, it’s clear that a subscription type model from Scribd aren’t the best way forward. The ebook industry is a weird and complicated beast as companies from Google to Apple to Amazon have discovered in their various attempts to become the “Netflix” of this respective market.

Regardless, publishers are going to be the ones that have to change and adapt to make sense of this newish form of reading and producing/consuming content. We’ve seen how the music industry seemingly collapsed during the last decade when singles become the prime selling vehicle, replacing albums. Now, we’re seeing a period of consolidation by the major labels and partners such as Apple or Spotify to allow for the labels to make the most profits from agreements while artists are paid fractions of a cent per streamed play. That will change as artists figure out the game and we see more Taylor Swift’s pushing their weight around the industry.

I don’t think we’ll see a similar contraction / consolidation in the book publishing universe because the tools for making and consuming books are more democratized and the industry is ripe for disruption.


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