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German Publisher Buys eBookstore, Plans Flat-Rate eBook Service

There are many publishers who sell direct, but Bastei Lübbe is going where few have dared tread. The German publisher told Handelsblatt on Tuesday that it plans to launch an ebook subscription service next year.

Bastei Lübbe bought the German ebookstore Beam last September, and it plans to adapt that store for a new purpose. The publisher will offer both a paid (like Kindle Unlimited) and ad-supported (like Readfy) service with ebooks and audiobooks. It believes that around a quarter of subscribers will opt to pay for the which is expected to cost around five euro per month.


Bastei Lübbe Chairman Thomas Schierack has set ambitious goals for the service; he wants to have 24 million users by 2020, with annual combined revenues of around 400 million euros. He plans to expand the service internationally and offer titles in German and English in 2016, adding Spanish and Portuguese titles in 2017 and Chinese titles in 2018.

This is not the company to offer an ad-supported ebook service, nor the first publisher to offer a paid subscription service. Readfy has been developing a similar ad-subsidized service in Germany since around this time last year. And there is also the paid subscription service Skoobe, which is owned by Bertelsmann (Penguin’s parent corp) and von Holtzbrinck (Macmillan’s parent corp).

But this is the first time in a long while that I have heard such improbably goals from an ebook company.

The last such example was Zola Books, which launched in July 2012 with the plan of supplanting Google Play Books by the end of the year, and then defeating Amazon in 5 to 10 years. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, and I don’t think Bastei Lübbe has much of a chance of achieving its goals either.

There are simply too many competent competitors in the market right now, including established ebook companies like Oyster, Scribd, Amazon, Skoobe,and Blloon. Bastei Lübbe is late to the race, and the head start gained by its competitors will be hard to overcome.

 image  by susivinh

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