E-book Subscription Services

Hey all! Got a question. Would you pay for a Netflix for books?

Well, it’s possible. Two companies, Scribd and Oyster now offer that exact experience. Sign up and you can read any book in their library for only nine or ten dollars a month. And soon it appears a third player will be entering this market, book-powerhouse, the one and only, you guessed it, Amazon! Kindle Unlimited, they’re calling it, and it’ll be priced close to the competitors. Here’s a short video.

Now, I like the idea, as both a reader and an author. Indie’s have a great opportunity in these companies to be seen. Oyster has a deal with Smashwords, one of the more prominent indie publishing platforms. If you read a lot, it might be worth checking out.

Unfortunately, these services, including Amazon’s new one, will suffer from the same glaring problem as Nexflix’s streaming service. No big titles. Well, almost none. I mean Netflix did get Skyfall, but only after it’d been out for several months(or was it a year?). The book subs appear to have that same problem. No Stephen King, Anne Rice, Brandon Sanderson, etc.. Now for me personally, these services are exciting for what they bring to indie authors. Amazon hasn’t released too many details. I cannot yet ascertain for sure whether books self-published through the Kindle will be included, but it seems they would be. Kinda stupid not too, really. Amazon’s generating more and more sales from independent authors publishing through Kindle, I don’t see them excluding these works.

I just hope they don’t force you use that KDP Select to have your book included. Not that it’s a bad service, just so restrictive. An indie needs to get his works out there on as many devices as possible. Granted Amazon’s reader base is huge, but it’s not everyone. And some people just downright don’t like Amazon, and won’t buy from them no matter what. Every reader is important to an author, especially for an indie writer.

I hope these services catch on in popularity. I hope they get the ‘Big Five’ Publishers on board eventually. Not so much for the publishers themselves, but for the publicity and visibility they’ll bring to these services. I mean, if a video streaming service like Netflix started tomorrow, but with all new releases and box-office hits, Netflix would be out of business by the end of the week.(No, that’s not going to happen of course. The big media companies would NEVER allow it.) The effect would be huge, and everyone would flock to the site to check it out, thereby giving  exposure to everyone on the site, known and unknown. Anyway, Check out these subs, and if your favorite author is on the list, might be worth it. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “E-book Subscription Services

  1. What rates do these services pay to their authors, I wonder? I know the music streaming sites pay less than a penny per play, to the extent that it’s practically impossible for any of the artists to make *any* money there…


    1. Most likely, reimbursement would be determined by arrangements made with publishers whose books are offered by the subscription service. To my knowledge, these sub services do not accept books independently, rather they purchase the rights to offer them from publishers. Indie authors would be represented by outfits like Smashwords, Bookbub, etc, and their works would be sold through those publishers, and payment would be made by the publisher to the author. Even if payments are small, the exposure offered the independent author is in itself quite valuable.


      1. Yeah, I checked out their websites after I commented and that’s what they said — they don’t accept indie authors, and they determine prices in confidential agreements with publishers. When I have time I suppose I’ll look over on Smashwords and see if they have any information about how much their authors get through these things.

        I’m pretty suspicious of anything claiming to give authors ‘exposure’, though — I suppose it could work if you’re going with the idea of giving away the first book or two in a long series, but apart from that I’m just not sure how useful ‘exposure’ actually is, especially the very limited kind you’d get from these niche services. I’m not necessarily saying authors shouldn’t do it, mind, just that they should go in with their eyes open & be careful not to get screwed over.


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