Following two months of private beta testing, Blloon opened ebook subscription service to the UK public today.
Launched in July by txtr founder Thomas Leliveld, Blloon aspires to offering a lower cost ebook service in a market already crowded by Scribd and Kindle Unlimited. Blloon's service is free to start, and every new reader starts with a credit for the equivalent of 3 books.
That credit is in the form of pages (1,000, to be exact), and additional pages can be earned by promoting Blloon, bought (similar to a pay-as-you-go phone), or readers can sign up for a monthly subscription: £3.99 for 500 pages.
That's enough to read around a book a month, which is rather a high price considering how little a reader gets in return. (In comparison, Kindle Unlimited costs £7.99 in the UK for unlimited reading.) Blloon justifies their prices by pointing out that they are targeting a specific reading demographic.
Leliveld said: "We aren't offering an expensive ‘unlimited’ service simply because that isn’t the demographic we are targeting. And people can only read so much. We’re welcoming young people, the majority of whom currently read up to 12 books a year. Providing a package that allows them to expand to two or three a month makes it an attractive and affordable offering - without any compromise on the quality of the titles. In time we hope it will encourage them to read even more."
I think that sounds like a load of hooey, but let's wait and see what the market decides.
Blloon's service is available on iPad and iPhone, and there is an Android app in the works. They haven't disclosed how many titles they offer, but I do know that their catalog includes titles from HMH, Open Road Media, Allen & Unwin, Diversion Books, Lonely Planet, Profile, RosettaBooks, Faber Factory, Guardian Books, and Workman Publishing.
At launch Blloon will include titles from publishers including Allen & Unwin, Diversion Books, Faber Factory, Guardian Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lonely Planet, Open Road Media, Profile, RosettaBooks and Workman Publishing and publisher titles from Ingram Content Group's CoreSource Plus solution offered through Lightning Source Inc.. It is also working closely with Gardners to collect titles from a range of publishers.