There’s been no formal announcement email from the startup, but Entitle Books has a notice on its website that it will be shutting down tomorrow, 21 July.
I’m still waiting for Entitle to respond to my press query with info on what’s going to happen next, so at this time I can only suggest that all three of Entitle’s customers download the ebooks they bought from the retailer and back them up on their computers.
Launched in September 2013 as eReatah, Entitle was a retailer with a book-of-the-month club type of subscription service. Customers signed up to be billed each month for either two, three, or four credits which could be used to buy ebooks. The ebooks could be read in the Entitle apps for Android or iOS or downloaded and transferred to devices which supported Adobe DE DRM.
Yes, you could download the ebooks; this was a retailer, after all, and not a streaming ebook service like Oyster, Scribd, or Kindle Unlimited.
The difference is that with KU, you pay for access, while Entitle sold you the ebooks ( think Spotify versus Audible, basically).
Entitle was one of two ebook retail startups in recent memory which have tried to bring the established book-of-the-month club model to the ebook market. The other startup was the recently deceased Librify, and both died for exactly the same reason. To put it simply, their operations didn’t achieve the scale they needed to cover their operating costs.
Neither was selling enough ebooks, and that really comes as no surprise.
A book-of-the-month club type of business model can work. Bookspan, for example, runs a couple dozen different (paper) book-of-the-month clubs in various genres and categories, including both fiction and non. But Bookspan has an advantage which Librify and Entitle lacked: scale.
Bookspan only sells a few books per member per month, but its aggregate sales are high enough to sustain the company (and then there were the deals struck with publishers). Entitle and Librify never even came close to achieving a break even point, much less the same level of success as Bookspan.
So what does this mean for the surviving players in the subscription ebook market?
Very little, actually.
I know that one person is saying that the market is doomed, but what he missed was that there were two models being tried in the subscription ebook market, not one.
Entitle’s retail subscription model has failed, but the streaming subscription ebook model is still functioning just fine.
Heck, Kindle Unlimited is in the running for being one of the five or six largest ebook services in the world. It is by no means a service in a doomed market (not today, at least).
image by Nicholas Eckhart