Germany's Skoobe ebook subscription service will be opening up a new venue soon for self-published authors. Starting tomorrow, this two-year-old startup will be carrying indie ebooks distributed by Books On Demand gmbh (BoD) and by ePubli.
No details have been released on the exact number of titles each service will add to Skoobe, but ePubli, which like Skoobe is owned by the Georg von Holtzbrinck publishing conglomerate, has said that it will be adding all of its catalog. Epubli distributes 12,000 titles, all of which will be added to Skoobe. An opt-out option will not be offered.
BoD will take the less active approach and simply make the option available to its clients, and they have also revealed that their cleints will earn 70% of the retail price for each ebook loaned. "As a self-publishing service provider with the widest distribution, it is our claim that the title of our authors are present in all relevant shops and on all platforms," ??BoD CEO Florian Geuppert is quoted in the press release.
Launched in 2012, Skoobe is owned by von Holtzbrinck and Bertelsmann. With only around 40,000 titles from 900 publishers, it's not the largest ebook subscription service but it does have a couple advantages: its owners. Skoobe is the only ebook sub service to carry titles from Macmillan, which added 1,500 SF titles from Tor Books a little under two months ago. And since Bertelsmann is also a part owner of Penguin Random House, the largest US publisher Skoobe also has an inside advantage should PRH decide to enter the ebook subscription market.
As Mike Shatzkin explained back in May, that is not terribly likely.
The other future player of consequence is Penguin Random House, which by itself has well-known commercial titles that exceed in number what the services would have even if they signed up one more of the remaining big publishers. ...
When I speculated some time ago about the opportunity PRH had to do this, one of their executives set me straight about why they wouldn’t. What I was told was that PRH was not thrilled by the idea of turning $500 and $1000 a year book customers into $100 a year book customers. Of course, that calculus changes for them if others are succeeding at doing that, and those new $100/year customers are then one step further removed from buying PRH books.
But it could still happen. The ebook subscription market is hot right now, with two new services, Kindle Unlimited here in the US and Ameba in Japan, launching in the past month and a third announcing plans to launch this fall.
It's too soon to say whether this market is financially viable, but if that happens Penguin Random House will need to enter.