North Carolina-based ebook startup eReatah has hit upon a way to overcome the well-known hostility that some major US publishers have towards the idea of an all-you-can-read service:
launch something else.
This company came out of hiding today with the launch of a new book club type of ebook subscription service. The service is now in private beta, and it enables users to buy 2, 3, or 4 ebooks each month with subscription rates ranging from $17 to $33 a month.
The service works more like Audible than like 24Symbols, Nuvem de Livros, or the Kindle Owner's Lending Library. Readers can use the monthly credits to buy ebooks and not simply read or rent them. The key difference is that eReatah is selling ownership, not access.
Readers can choose from a catalog with over 80,000 titles from a dozen distributors and publishers, including IPG, Ingram Content Group, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and more. The ebooks can be read on eReatah's apps for, iPad, or iPhone, and they can be downloaded to up to 6 devices.
eReatah is also promising personalized ebook recommendations based on a user’s reading history and their similarity to other eReatah members. They've built their own recommendation engine, and I'm told that it can analyze the ebooks a member has read in order to find ebooks that share similar topics and themes. The eReatah press release also mentions a cute “If These Two Books Had A Baby…” feature which is going to let readers pick any two titles in the eReatah catalog and find ebooks that combine aspects of both titles.
The service averages out to about $8 a book per month, and depending on the title that could be a very good deal for readers. If you like to read the latest $13 best-seller or you are interested in buying the more expensive nonfiction titles then this service is worth considering.
I was told that over three quarters of the catalog lists for more than $8.50, though I haven't gotten an invite yet to try the service so I can't confirm that. But if that bears out then the financial aspects should work out nicely for all parties involved. Me, I like cheap ebooks, so eReatah won't suit me.
And please note that I said that it should work out, not that it will. eReatah doesn't have the advantages of say Audible. The ebookseller is operating in a market where they have to compete with $3 and $4 ebooks sold by a retailer that aggressively discounts ebooks just so they can sell fiddles when the publishing industry burns to the ground (I'm kidding, but you know what I mean). The Audible subscription program, on the other hand, competes with retail prices that are significantly higher - $30, $40, and more.
It's the competition with cheap ebooks that could do eReatah in.