It makes a certain amount of sense, from a consumer standpoint: companies like Amazon, Scribd and Oyster are offering services where you pay $10 a month and get unlimited books. The author or publisher gets a fee, only if the reader gets past a certain point in the book. But the Economist says "Spotify for books" probably won't take off soon.

Top image: Alan Levine

The crucial difference? The book market isn't currently as hard hit by piracy, so the biggest publishers have no incentive to make their most popular books available on these services, the Economist explains:

The record companies tolerate music-streaming services like Spotify, which pay them only modest fees, because the alternative is a continued rise in music piracy—on which they earn nothing at all. However, piracy of e-books is not such a problem: it is perfectly feasible for publishers to keep back some titles from subscription services and make money by selling individual copies of them.

So unless the e-book market changes in unexpected ways, subscription services may have only a limited impact on consumer-book publishing.


At the moment, it sounds as though these services mostly feature books from independent and self-published authors, some of whom have expressed dissatisfaction with the smaller amounts of money they make from these deals, versus usual direct sales via Amazon and other outlets. So unless Amazon, Oyster and Scribd find ways to make this "all you can eat" model more tasty for authors and publishers, it might take a while before it's enticing for readers. [via SFSignal]

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