Oi, a company with millions of cell phone, internet, and phone line customers, opened the new Oi Bookstore service week. Subscribers will now be able to read up to 3 titles at a time via their web browser, Android app or (coming soon) iOS app.
The service costs 3.90 Brazilian reais per week, or about $1.69 USD, and (according to one Brazilian ebook blog) offers access to 130 titles.
No, that is not typo; it really is one hundred and thirty ebooks for 2 bucks a week. I found this story via Revolucao eBook, one of the Portuguese language blogs I follow, and they said that it offends the intelligence of consumers. I agree.
130 titles is a paltry catalog when compared to any of the other ebook subscription services. For example, Riidr One (in Denmark) offers a catalog of 5200 ebooks and 1500 audiobooks. Madrid-based 24Symbols has a catalog of 15,000 titles in English and Spanish.
Skoobe launched last year in Germany and now boasts 25,000 titles in their catalog, and even the Brazilian Nuvem de Livros service reportedly has . Heck, even Sesame Street offers an ebook subscription service with 150 titles, and that is effectively a single publisher (and they only charge $4 a month).
When compared with all those services, Oi Bookstore isn't a commercial endeavor so much as it is a miss-scheduled April Fool's Day Joke.
Just to put this blunder into perspective, the Brazilian ebook market was quite small in 2012 (R$ 3.8 million from 252 thousand copies sold). That figure is so small that if Oi can get even 1% of their customer base to try Oi Bookstore, they could conceivably disappoint
piss off more people at one time than the total number of people who bought ebooks in Brazil in 2012. Now that is smart.
Admittedly, I don't think most consumers will be as annoyed as I am right now, but that doesn't change the fact that Oi is throwing away a chance to enter a undeveloped market. The Brazilian ebook market is nothing but potential and Oi is throwing away their best chance to grab significant market share.