Readfy Opens to the Public in Germany, Will Face Competition From Scribd, Kindle Unlimited

readfy_logo_cmyk__large_500_500[1]Following 8 months of private beta tests, the much anticipated advert-supported Readfy ebook service opened to the public this weekend. The service is launching with a catalog of 25,000 titles which can be read in apps for Android, iPad, and iPhone - at no cost to the user.

Rather than charge readers directly (like Scribd and Kindle Unlimited), Readfy subsidizes a free reading experience by selling adverts, and inserting the ads into ebooks. Banner ads occupy the upper edge of the screen while an ebook is open, and Readfy also inserts ads at chapter breaks. According to one source, the interstitial ads are currently images, but Readfy does plan to replace them them with auto-playing video ads.

readfy-banner[1]And in exchange for watching ads, readers can immerse themselves in ebooks published by a number of German publishers, including around 6,000 self-published titles.

Readfy's not the first to try to fund an ebook service through ads; Wowio launched one years ago (before shutting it down) and plans to launch a new service later this year. But Readfy is perhaps the most uniquely financed ebook service. The Düsseldorf-based startup raised 500,000 euros this spring in a crowd funding campaign which drew the support of 1,363 investors.

It's going to need to use those funds to walk a tightrope, balancing the need to not drive off readers with the need to show ads and charge for them. That is a far more difficult job than the one which faces Readfy's competitors.

Speaking of which, Readfy is facing fierce competition In addition to Kindle Owner's Lending Library, Scribd and  the local competitor Skoobe, Readfy will soon have to contend with Amazon as a direct competitor. Many sources are saying that Amazon will launch the Kindle unlimited service in Germany around the time of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is less than two weeks away.

Kindle Unlimited launched in the US in July 2014, and only last week started its international expansion with a UK launch. With a catalog of over 650,000 titles,  KU could well be the juggernaut of this market, but its general lack of traditionally published titles gives its smaller competitors like Oyster and Scribd an advantage in the market. Both of those services have signed two major US trade publishers, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. This enables them to offer a catalog which Amazon cannot match (not without paying through the nose).

On the other hand both Scribd and Oyster have committed themselves to paying for each ebook after a certain percentage is read. This potentially turns their obligations into a bottomless pit, while most of Amazon's costs are limited to a pool of money ($2 million in August 2014).,

About Nate Hoffelder (11480 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."

1 Comment on Readfy Opens to the Public in Germany, Will Face Competition From Scribd, Kindle Unlimited

  1. Fat chance of the French and German arms of the Big 5 dropping the boycott of KU. For which we should all be thankful.

    As for the no doubt imminent KU EU stores, Amazon may be able to field 650,000 titles in KU but they are nearly all in English. Germany and France may be big secondary markets for English-language books, but I can’t see the Germans or the French rushing to pay Bezos a monthly fee just to read foreign-language titles, all of which are available to them in the main store anyway.

    The bottomless pit of Scribd and Oyster vs the pot of Amazon gold should be clarified, Nate.

    Oyster & Scribd pay ALL their authors a good rate. KU pays top whack to the handful of trad publishers on board, and shits on its indie authors with a share of a pot that will always be much lower than the 70% royalty.

    A $4.99 sale will pay the indie author $3.50. A KU borrow just $2.

    Which is precisely why Grandinetti – the most dangerous man in publishing today – introduced the All-Stars cash payout so the Amazon cheerleaders won’t lose out by being in KU. For all other indies KU is the long-expected royalty cut.

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