Readfy currently offers an ad-subsidized reading service that lets users read for free in Readfy's apps for Android and iOS in exchange for viewing adverts, and on Thursday the startup will start renting ebooks to readers.
The rental fees will range between one and five euros, and cover a rental period of 30 days. According to Readfy readers will save between 30% and 70% off the purchase price each time.
Unlike the ad-supported model, where publishers are paid by the page read, under Readfy's rental model publishers will receive a share of the net sales. This has already drawn the interest of a number of publishers such that readers will be able to choose from a catalog of around 50,000 titles.
The Readfy app is currently installed on more than 100,000 smartphones and tablets, according to the press release, and as March 2016 just over 40 million pages have been read in the app.
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Readfy is claiming that this is the world's-first ebook rental service, but that isn't even remotely true. Sony tried a similar idea with the Librie way back when, to no success, and the rental model is also commonly used for textbooks (both print and digital).
You can, for example, rent digital textbooks from Amazon or about a dozen other sites. It's not the most common method for acquiring textbooks (sales still trumps rentals) but it is an established option, one which Readfy wants to bring to the consumer/trade ebook market in Germany.
Do you suppose they'll have much success?
What with the price controls on German ebooks, I'd expect that this service would prove popular. But Readfy does currently only have 100,000 users (at best), and that's just not enough to be worth a publisher's time. And if Readfy can't get more ebooks, they won't be able to keep readers from choosing to get their ebooks from another source, and so the service will likely get caught in a frustrating catch-22.
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