The US subscription ebook market has grown quite crowded with Scribd, Oyster serving the general trade market and Reading Rainbow, BookBoard, Sesame Street, and others serving the kids market, but as I look over the press release sitting in my inbox I think there’s room for one more competing service.
Epic, a new startup with $1.4 million in capital, launched their ebook subscription service today. Their service is only available on the iPad, and it offers access to around 2 thousand from a variety of publishers, including S&S, Kids Can Press, Lerner Publishing Group, and Open Road Integrated Media.
That is a larger selection of titles than most* of Epic’s competitors in the kids market, and they are available at a quite reasonable price of $10 a month. Yes, that is about twice as expensive as Reading Rainbow, but given that the latter has a much smaller catalog the extra cost could be worth it.
But is this a better deal than? That would depend on whether you have an iPad, and want to pay $10 a month just for books, or have a Kindle Fire, and want to pay $5 to $10 a month for access to a catalog of “thousands of the most popular books, games, apps, and shows”.
It’s still too early to say whether the service will succeed, but it is clear that by following in the footsteps of Netflix and signing deals with major publishers (rather than developing the ebooks independently) Epic has an advantage over their direct competition.
But along with that advantage Epic is also saddled with the same disadvantage as Netflix; both services are subject to the foibles of their suppliers. Netflix (and its customers) in particular has suffered at the hands of the major media conglomerates and their capricious policies of making content available and then removing it. Let’s hope Epic won’t have the same problem.