Curator Wanted – This book owner is overwhelmed by his 20,000 title strong library and is in need of a curator. Applicants need to show previous experience at a library or bookstore. Send CV and cover letter to …
Over the past 18 months subscription ebook services like Scribd, Oyster, and Kindle Unlimited have increased their catalogs to the point that the average reader can’t keep up. With a million or more titles in Scribd and Oyster, readers need a curation service to help them discover their next read.
That is what Joe Wikert argued on his blog yesterday. Needless to say, I don’t agree.
The initial promise is compelling, especially for voracious readers. For $10-$15/month consumers get access to more content than they could possibly read in a month. That ultimately creates a bigger problem than the subscription platforms probably realize.
For more than a year now I’ve been a subscriber to both Oyster, for books, and Next Issue, for magazines. Both have slightly altered my reading habits but neither are serving their content in an optimal manner.
For Next Issue, it’s as though the U.S. Post Office backs up a truck and dumps 100+ magazines every month. Sure, there are many I enjoy and a few that I used to value enough to buy individually in the print days. Compare that large, unreadable stack to one thin magazine, The Week. If I had to choose between the 100+ Next Issue magazines and The Week, the latter wins every time.
What makes The Week so unique? Their editors are curating and quoting content from many other magazines, covering both sides of all the major issues. IOW, when I read The Week I feel as if I just read the Cliff’s Notes of all the top newspapers and magazines…and I can accomplish this in less than an hour.
The Week is efficient and Next Issue is bloated. When I finish reading an issue of The Week I feel like I got a thorough global debriefing in record time. When I close the Next Issue app I feel like I wasted much of the abundant content in magazines I never opened let alone read.
While I would concede that his example is valid, I don’t agree with the way that he extends his argument to include ebook subscription services.
Yes, Wikert has a fire hose problem with Next Issue. A ton of new content is dumped on him every week, and a lot of it will go stale if not read right away. (Speaking as a blogger, I feel his pain.)
That is a problem, yes, but I don’t think the same problem extends to subscription ebook services. Oyster may have a million titles, but it doesn’t add a ton of new works each week. The ebooks can also sit on a reading list without going stale.
This is why I suggest that rather than compare Oyster and Scribd to a magazine and news subscription service,it would be better to look to other large collections of books: public libraries, for example.
I would argue that Oyster and Scribd have the same firehose problems as large libraries. In short, I don’t think they have a problem at all.
Yes, libraries do sometimes have huge catalogs, but I have never been overwhelmed by the idea of finding my next read. Between book blogs and social networks like Twitter and Goodreads (sites which solve the discovery problem), I’ve always approached a library with a good idea of what I was looking for. If nothing else, I know my preferred genre to browse for a new book.
Tell me, do you ever feel overwhelmed by your library’s catalog? What about Oyster, Scribd, or Kindle Unlimited?