Who Will Offer the First Book Subscription Service? No one.

I cam across this interesting post on INDEX // mb:

Who Will Be The First to Offer ‘All You Can Eat’ Book Subscription Service?

Amazon? Tor? Probably a company that doesn’t exist today. Reading this article on The Spotify music service made me think of another option. Edgar Bronfman Jr. is quoted as saying “Free streaming music services are clearly not net positive for the industry.” Ever heard of radio Ed? That is net positive for labels, or at least it used to be. What radio is to music, libraries are to books. Imagine a modern day Carnegie sponsoring a civic library that allows all residents of a town or city an all you can eat e-library service. I would move there. And I bet Richard Florida would consider it.

Neat idea, but I don't see how it would work. Publishing is too different from the recording industry.

One, the recording industry has the Big Five, and publishing does not. Okay, there are some huge publishing conglomerates, but do you really think they could sign one contract that affects all their imprints? I don't.

Two, contracts are different. The recording industry is used to licensing content any number of different ways, and their contracts with artists are written to allow it. On the other hand, publishing is used to selling books, not licensing content. As I understand it, a publishing deal is very specific in the rights an author signs over to a publisher.

Let's say a publisher wanted to license their complete digital backlist to such a service. I seriously doubt that most contracts would allow them to do that. At best, they would have to license individual copies of the ebooks, and that's just not financially possible (for the service).

The reason music services work is that people can listen to the songs they want _right_now_.You won't be able to do that with ebooks unless the service buys a vast number of licenses for popular titles (like the Twilight series).

There is one way it might work, and that would be if publishers allow for the service to return a license for credit. What's the chance that publishers would go along, does anyone know?

About Nate Hoffelder (11804 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

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