Tapas will soon be carrying several Hachette titles, including thriller Underground Airlines by Ben Winters, Peter Brown’s middle-grade novel, The Wild Robot, and Dan Lyons’ memoir Disrupted: My Misadventures in the Start-Up Bubble.
“We have been watching closely the trend toward mobile reading rise in the past few years and have been very interested in finding ways to reach that emerging customer,” said Tina McIntyre, Hachette’s senior executive director of content development. “We are happy to be providing our authors a new venue for their books to be discovered via the Tapas platform and are excited to watch as Tapas Media becomes a market leader in mobile reading here in the US.”
Tapas’ claim to fame is that it is trying to bring the in-app purchase concept from the mobile games industry to ebooks. It cuts comic books and other works into bite-sized chunks. Users can read the first few parts for free, but have to pay for each segment after that.
So far it hasn’t had much success. Tapas currently claims to reach more than 1 million readers monthly, but their website also shows that the platform has only generated around 156 million pages read. So I would take that user base with a grain of salt.
Tapas is not the first to try this concept, although it is the first to approach it from the angle of in-game purchases. That’s a novel approach, but given the stark differences between the ebook and mobile games market it is unlikely that the idea will translate well.
AS reader MKS explained when I last covered Tapas back in April:
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I doubt this will work for books in the same way it does for games because of the psychology of the experience is so different. Mobile freemium games are supported by “whales”, the small percentage who are usually paying for the ability to play with and against other people; high scores and bragging rights are part of the appeal. There’s no competitive or cooperative aspect to books. (When text-based entertainment has such aspects it becomes a game, and it was one of the earliest forms of computer games.).
Amazon already offers free content in the form of the book preview, and if that is sufficiently compelling, the reader buys the book. Selling a book by the chapter is a serial. Books in trilogies or series are just forms of incrementally buying big books. James Patterson’s “Bookshots” can also be seen as a way to incrementally purchase text entertainment.
Furthermore, people already “gamify” book reading on their own with book clubs, fan groups, fan fiction, and adaptations into other media — including board and video games.
Overall, it looks like another startup based on understanding neither games nor books but instead wishful thinking.