How the eBook Subscription Model Can Succeed
There is a lot of confusion on how the eBook subscription model will impact on the entire eBook and digital publishing industry. How will authors get paid?
Will the best-selling eBooks be available? How much is a fair price for a monthly subscription? Who will win out and become the ‘Netflix’ of eBooks? There are a lot of unanswered questions in this developing model.
My opinion is that there is the potential for this type of model to work as it has with movies and music. Initially there were a lot of ‘doubters’ about a subscription model for music. The success of Spotify has shown that it can be done and done well! The huge return if it does work for eBooks has encouraged some big investments in this area.
Here Are Some Key Factors that I Believe are Required for the eBook Subscription Model to Work:
1. Contain the Best-selling eBooks Readers Want
If readers are excited to read the recent best-sellers or new eBooks from authors they admire then they must be made available in their library.
If you are paying a monthly membership and the eBooks you want to read are not included and you have to continually head over to buy the eBook from Amazon then you will find it difficult to justify your membership. To succeed, the best-selling eBooks must be available along with new eBooks from talented self-published authors.
2. Huge Library of eBooks
In order for readers to justify their monthly membership fees they will demand that there is a sizeable selection of quality eBooks that they can choose from. Oyster currently boasts over 200,000 eBooks which is a good start.
The big question is how many of these 200,000 eBooks contain the popular eBooks that readers want to read? To succeed, there must be a huge selection of quality eBooks for members to choose from.
3. Variety is Essential
An eBook subscription site must cater to all readers and that meets providing eBooks for all genres. If they fail to provide a variety of eBooks in any one specific genre then they will immediately lose members.
4. Improve on-site Search Feature
When any online store or library grows its eBook offering they must also improve their search functions. Providing just category listings or human-generated recommendations only makes it more difficult for members to find exactly what they want.
To succeed, these sites must make it easy for members to find exactly what they want. That also includes searching by eBook author or title as well as providing related eBook recommendations.
5: Keep it Simple!
Readers want a viable and cheap way to read multiple eBooks. Readers want to continue reading an eBook as the already do. Readers want to read eBooks on their choice of platform and not be tied to one platform.
Readers want choice. Readers want to have access to the best-selling eBooks that their friends are talking about. These eBook subscription sites do not need to get too fancy in what they offer. The members will be most concerned about finding the eBook they want and having quick and easy access to reading it.
They don’t necessarily ask for an increased range of fancy, but unnecessary, technological features.
6: Create a Feeling of Community
There are already a number of reading communities online from Book Country to Goodreads that serve the purpose of bringing readers and authors together in a community.
These eBook subscription sites must also operate like a membership site and provide the opportunity to interact with each other, discuss eBooks, characters, and authors and meet like-minded readers. To succeed, these sites must provide an ‘interactive’ feature for members.
7. Offer a Choice of Subscriptions
As an owner of multiple membership sites I understand that members want a choice of subscriptions so that they can choose the one that best suits their needs. This includes paying by the week, month, year or a combination.
Unlike music on Spotify, it takes a lot longer to read an eBook than listen to a song. Members will justify their subscription by how many eBooks they actually read each week or month.
There are still a lot of questions about the eBook subscription model and whether or not providers such as Oyster and Scribd can compete against Amazon. eBook selection, the quality of eBooks and how Oyster’s contracts evolve with publishers will be vital.
Any chance publishers have to lessen their reliance on Amazon will be an option I am sure they will look into.