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Macmillan Continues to Dabble in Subscription eBook Market, Adds 1,000 Titles to Scribd, Oyster

oyster logoHaving previously test the subscription ebook waters by distributing a limited number of SF titles to Skoobe in June of last year and sending around 1,000 titles to Oyster and Scribd earlier this year, Macmillan stuck another toe in the pool this morning.

Oyster announced on Thursday that Macmillan was doubling the number of titles available. They were not specific as to the figure but Macmillan had 1,000 titles in Oyster before, so …

Update: And now that the embargo has expired I can tell you that Scribd also got the thousand ebooks.

Macmillan is very slowly joining S&S, HarperCollins, HMH, a host of smaller publishers, and self-published authors in the turbulent subscription ebook market. Where at one time Macmillan’s hesitancy was frustrating, it has lately become a well-considered cautiousness that other publishers should have emulated.

A couple weeks ago Scribd announced that it was removing romance titles from its catalog. They did not reveal the number of titles pulled, but one reader noted that the contemporary romance section was cut from 30,000 titles to 8,000 titles. All publishers, including Harlequin, saw their more popular titles culled.

The problem with Scribd (and Oyster’s) subscription ebook service is that they can only function when readers don’t use them as intended. When romance readers started reading voraciously, the drain on Scribd’s pocketbook far exceeded its revenues. Oyster probably had a similar problem, but that service is smaller and did not make the same mistake of encouraging quite so many romance readers to sign up.

And now Macmillan has taken another small step into a market with a partner that no longer looks viable. For once, being a stick in the mud turned out to be the best move.

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