For the past 8 months the German publisher Bastei Lübbe has been teasing that they were developing a subscription ebook service, and they formally announced that the service, oolipo, will launch in April 2016.
And yes, that is the name; while Bastei Lübbe also owns the Beam ebookstore, the new service will have a new name to go with its new international focus.
According to the press release, Oolipo won’t be the promised ebook subscription service but will instead focus on “short, multimedia reading content.” It goes on to add that “new, mostly exclusive content and series are being conceived for this purpose.”
The website does say that oolipo is recruiting writers, and the press release mentions the boast that:
Unlike all the previous streaming services in the field of reading, oolipo will follow an entirely novel concept. The portal will focus on short-form content in portions ideally suited to mobile reading, especially on smartphones and tablets. This is how oolipo is to reach its target group worldwide.
That sounds to me like a new take on the magazine concept, or possibly a paid alternative to Wattpad. Neither is exactly a new idea, but apparently it’s enough for The Bookseller to put oolipo up for an award (Book Tech Company of the Year).
Edit: According to @Jellybooks, “there is already a German Wattpad and it’s called Inkitt, but this looks more like Byliners”. (That service did offer a subscription before it was bought last year.)
Oolipo is going to launch into a beta test in April 2016 in the UK, US, and German speaking countries. It’s scheduled to open to the public in July.
Or at least that is what Bastei Lübbe is hoping; will readers really be willing to pay for what they can find for free on Wattpad and a dozen different fanfiction sites?
Granted, the writing will be better, but Bastei Lübbe will still face the same problem that took down The Magazine last year and caused Byliner to close. People were willing to pay, only not in numbers large enough to keep the digital magazine going.