So The Guardian and The Bookseller finally noticed this week that the UK-based Alexi book discovery service is now open to the public. (I have been following Alexi since the service was first announced last July, and according to the email I have received this service opened to the public on 28 September.)
I am the only one to say this in public, but Alexis is doomed, for obvious reasons. From The Bookseller:
Members are charged either £1.99 a week or £79 a year to join Alexi. The business model works by offering members free previews of books. Every time a member reads a book beyond the free preview limit it triggers a payment to the publisher equivalent to an e-book sale. The author who recommended the book will also receive a small payment from the company every time a book is read, along with other incentives to take part.
The app will select approximately 400 books to recommend to members over the course of a year.
It’s not just the fact Alexi is charging 2 pounds per week for a service Bookbub, Goodreads, and many other sites offer for free but also that this service is limited to the UK and can only be access from the Alexi app …
… which is only available for iPhone and iPad (an Android app is planned for 2017).
And if you buy an ebook through Alexi, you can only read it in the Alexi app. Alexi’s competitors, on the other hand, are free and recommend titles which can be bought from a user’s preferred ebook retailer.
Update: Alexi sells access to ebooks, not recommendations. You can read books for free for that monthly fee.
How is it that I am the only one who has figured out that this app is doomed?
I can’t answer that question, but I can add that I have never seen an app which more closely epitomizes the publishing industry echo chamber. It is almost as if Alexi was designed to appeal to the literati and other insiders who want to pay for the privilege of being told which books are the “right” books to buy.
Me, I find Alexi a complete waste of money, but then again I am also connected to thousands of book people on Twitter who recommend great reads all the time and ask nothing in return.
And Alexi wants us to pay for something everyone else is giving away?
Why ever would we do that?