PRH is backing out of its contracts with ebook and audiobook subscription services. Last week they pulled their ebooks from several Europe-based Kindle Unlimited competitors, and now they are pulling their audiobooks from Scribd as well.
PRH UK issued a statement this morning:
Penguin Random House has decided that at this stage we will not participate in unlimited access subscription models. Our decision was made collectively by the company’s international leadership team to preserve a diversity of content in the marketplace and the actual and perceived long-term value of our authors’ intellectual property.
While PRH didn’t have ebooks in Scribd, they did have a few ebooks in Storytel, Bookbeat, and Nextory, and as TNPS reported, the titles were removed last week.
That move inspired a Swedish blog to speculate that PRH was going to launch its own subscription service, but I’d say the above statement put the kibosh on that idea. While PRH could launch such a service using just the works they have under contract (as Mike Shatzkin has pointed out, PRH has a huge backlist), that would be a major shift from the publishing conglomerate’s well-established position of indifference towards subscription access models.