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Germany’s Weltbild Launches an eBook Subscription, Also Reminds Us Why Amazon is Winning the Book Market

The German retailer Weltbild has offered its customers a limited ebook subscription service via its stake in Tolino since last November, and now it is launching an even more crippled version of Kindle Unlimited. The service is called WeBookAbo, and subscribers will pay 7 euros each month for the privilege of reading two ebook from a selection of ten.

That is about a 30% discount on retail, I am told, but given the other limitations this is not that good of a deal.

The selection is drawn from titles exclusive to Weltbild, for which the media retailer has secured the licenses, and doesn’t include well-known authors. Also, you have to use the two book credits each month, or lose them. And the books of course are locked down with DRM, while the retail copies do not.

I do not know why anyone would want to pay for this service; the selection stinks, and you don’t even get to own the ebooks.

In a way, this reminds me of Amazon’s Kindle First offering. That is a free benefit of Amazon Prime, and lets me choose a free ebook every month. This is a great freebie, and there’s obvious value to Prime members.

WeBookAbo, on the other hand, has no value other than to remind us that the reaosn Amazon is beating other retailers that, well, they suck.

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Xavier Basora August 2, 2018 um 2:23 am


it’s because the European publishers have zero, absolutely zero, interest in promoting any alternatives to paper. They’re forcing European readers to buy only paper and block them from audiobooks, ebooks or anything digital.
Nothing. NOTHING must stand in they way of their lumber distribution monopoly.

All this with the govts leave as they’ve been suckered to protect of 'local cultural industries' which…. just so happen to be multibillion dollar bemoths.

Yup. Euro customers will continue spending their beer money on Amazon or football


Hans Maerker August 2, 2018 um 4:17 am

I partially agree to what Xavier said but want to specify it a bit more, Nate.

>>…because the European publishers have zero, absolutely zero, interest in promoting any alternatives to paper.<>They’re forcing European readers to buy only paper and block them from audiobooks, ebooks or anything digital.<<
I can't agree with this rubbish. No one can "force" readers being blocked from theese kind of things. They have free access and can chose freely. Where I see a problem is the attitude of many readers — I refer her especially to Germans. They all learn English to some extend in school [except the elementary school] but rather stick to their German afterwards. Even if they are capable of speaking and reading English. They have all the choices of being internationally informed and read any news, fiction or whatever they want in English.

The [print] media can only be as much effective as their readers allow them. It's time for German readers to get out of their rut and think individually. Yet, I'm afraid that is not in [most of] the German's blood. Those who are the exception, live mostly in foreign countries of either Europe or overseas. I know quite a few who live outside their homeland for good.

BTW, I'm German myself, raised and educated in Germany. So, I guess that entitles me to talk about Germans. 🙂
I spent years shuttling between Germany and other countries. Currently, my wife and I live in Malta, Mediterranean.

Hans Maerker

Mark Williams – The New Publishing Standard August 2, 2018 um 6:56 am

"…it’s because the European publishers have zero, absolutely zero, interest in promoting any alternatives to paper. They’re forcing European readers to buy only paper and block them from audiobooks, ebooks or anything digital."

Xavier, what utter, utter, utter nonsense.

Clearly if that were true there would be no ebooks and no digital audiobooks from German and other European publishers.

There are plenty.

Xavier Basora August 2, 2018 um 7:28 am

The publishers make buying ebooks difficult, less enticing and a thin back list. There are many French and Catalan books for example I want to buy but either they’re only only available in paper, the ebook prices are still expensive and lot of writers' back lists are unavalable or spotty.
It’s very annoying.


Ana August 2, 2018 um 12:09 pm

I don’t know about French, but Catalan books have even a more reduce market available than Spanish (castilian) books. When I see US markets, it makes sense, there are thousands of potencial customers for a book (I’m not talking of best sellers, just novels from consolidated not bestsellers authors). You can divide that number by 10 or 20 for Spanish books, and then divide again for Catalan books.
So yes, even if they price the books reasonably they aren’t going to get a return for their inversion in a long time, so their not interested in digitalicing their backlist, and as much as it pain us potencial costumers, it’s not worth it.

Disgusting Dude August 2, 2018 um 12:47 pm

The problem is their business model.
The very commitment to print and the overhead that entail eats up most of the retail price. If they were willing to let go of dead tree pulp and embrace the much higher margins and lower costs they coukd drop prices and pocket a bigger bet.

The real issue isn’t economical but rather they see what digital did in the US and UK, enabling willing authors to bypass publishers altogether and profitably capture a major portion of the market. Thing is, the power of digital is most useful in *smaller* markets. This is reflected in the boom in underserved niche markets that were too small for print-obsessed publishers to bother with but which are prospering in digital through minimal overhead and lower prices.

Smaller markets, whether Catalan, Walloon, Flemish, whatever, should be rushing to digital to promote their cultures rather than crippling it to protect a dated business model.

But hey, it’s their culture. Protect it, cripple it, whatever…

Xavier Basora August 3, 2018 um 1:57 am

Disgusting dude,

I totally agree with you. The problem with the Catalan market is that Planeta owns Grup 62 which represents 80% of the published Catalan books via its imprints.
So Planeta wields real enormous economic and cultural power and it’s not in its interests to digitize all backlist or to make more books digital.
And the Generalitat has far more serious issues to deal with right now.
Consequently, we need to take a good hard look as to who actually owns the publishing/cultural industries in those smaller markets


I strongly disagree. The smaller and independent publishers Cossantania, Males Herbes, etc should be digitizing their books.

Unfortunately they’re inconsistent. They digitize some books but not others. Or not at all.

The publishers allege 'piracy' but the real reason is that paper is regarded as more prestigious and authentic. Consequently the big publishers pretty much compel everyone to abide by their business models which benefits them but not the smaller publishers or minority cultures.

The late Jaume Vallcorba of Quadren Crema in an interview at the Cafe de la Republica pretty much summarized this fetish towards paper and disdain for digital.
I.DON’T.CARE. I want to buy the books in my preferred format which is ebook.

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