The hot publishing news story this week has everyone talking excitedly, but it’s left me scratching my head.
There’s a (paywalled) story over on The Bookseller reporting that the Commonwealth divisions of HarperCollins will soon have ebooks in Kindle Unlimited (but only in the UK and Australia).
I haven’t seen the original article, but from what I have heard there are very few details to be had. We don’t know the payment terms, exclusivity requirements, or the number of titles that will be affected.
I do however have the statement from HarperCollins UK (this is why I waited to post):
We are testing participation with Kindle Unlimited in the UK with a limited number of our ebooks to understand how readers use the service and to ensure we are exploring all possible avenues for our authors. We believe there is opportunity to drive sales through Kindle Unlimited and a la carte sales by allowing readers as much choice as possible in how they access content.
If that is really all that is known about the deal then I really do not understand why everyone is so excited.
The major publishers have been in the subscription ebook market for years and years. They’ve had ebooks in Scribd and Bookmate and (the late) Oyster since forever, and there are even publishers with books in Kindle Unlimited under the same exclusivity and payment terms that authors get. What’s more, I checked with Remi Harad of Scribd and was told “we have thousands of titles from HarperCollins on our platform, and we add hundreds of thousands of new titles in the platform every year”.
A couple of HarperCollins’ competitors even launched a subscription ebook service Germany; it’s called Skoobe, and it belonged to Holtzbrink (parent of Macmillan) and Bertelsman (parent of Random House) before the German book retailer Thalia bought a 50% stake.
So this week’s news is a huge deal – compared to what, exactly? Can anyone tell me?
Is it the fact Amazon is involved?