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Skoobe Launches in Germany

A new ebook service launched earlier this week, and once again I am gnashing my teeth in envy. Skoobe is the Netflix style flat rate subscription plan that I’ve been wanting for a while now, only it’s happening in Germany.

Skoobe is a joint venture between Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck, 2 publishing and media conglomerates. It’s currently focused on just German language titles, and it does not sell ebooks. I don’t see how many titles are offered, but the press release boasts about having new works including iSaacson’s Steve Jobs bio, so I would assume that it is decent. Content can be read via the branded iOS apps (Android apps are coming). The fee in the intro phase is 9.99 € a month, and you can have up to five titles out at the same time as well as up to 3 apps registered to an account. You can even read offline.

Do you know what I find most interesting? The two conglomerates above re the parent companies for a bunchaton of publishers, including Random House and Macmillan here in the US. These are 2 of the Big 6, and neither likes library ebooks (RH just raised their prices for library ebooks). They also didn’t like Bilbary’s ebook rental service.

But now I think I see why they passed on Bilbary; Skoobe was in the works. Publishers have long been said to be looking for an alternative to library ebooks; I think that Skoobe is an experiment in a new business model.

But do you know what’s even more interesting? Holtzbrinck owns Macmillan, and (I think) if you go down a couple steps from Macmillan, you will find Afictionado, an ebook rental service that is in the works in the UK. Afictionado is going to have around 35k to 40k titles when it launches in the UK later this year, with the US market to follow.

This changes the whole ebook market. If these 2 services work out for Holtzbrinck, they might decide to jump into it whole hog. This could potentially be a great service for all of us.

2012 is going to be a fascinating year.



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Xhara March 2, 2012 um 4:39 am

That are really cool news! Especially for us Germans. I’m waiting for the moment they open it to android. Although I really hope they don’t stop there. If they limit it to iOs and Android they can’t serve those with Sony Reader, Pocketbook etc. I really really hope they’ll find a solution since I’m rather fond of reading on my e-reader instead with my tiny android mobile 😀

Xhara March 2, 2012 um 5:00 am

Hmm, just looking at the offer … and the information they give is really inconsistent. In the faq they write what you just said: you can borrow up to five books at the same time – in the introductional phase the overall amount of books you borrow is unlimited. No mentioning how long this phase will last. But at the same time they write at the start page: Starting 1th of March: 2 books per month.
Second: they only offer payment per Credit Card. For a german service that’s quite unusual since we mostly pay per bank transfer. I would expect a direct debit procedure as well.
And really if I can only borrow 2 books a month for 9,99 … then I’m inclined to forego their offer. Not good enough plus all the stress with special app etc.
For comparison: at – a movie lending service by amazon – you can borrow 4 _films_ a month for the same money and I can watch them with my normal dvd player. And they offer above mentioned debit procedure as well.

Plumadona March 2, 2012 um 8:15 pm

This goes hand in hand with Random House price gouging libraries. Too sad.

Mirola March 23, 2012 um 4:51 am

Pretty interesting! But honestly I doubt, that it will work – eventhough the two big players are in charge. I think the big publishers missed out on the ebook market for too long already – it is not only money that is necessary to set up a good platform. I guess there are some guys out there that are much more experienced in this special market and will finally make the deal – at least I hope they will go for it. I will stick to GRIN anyway – as an author (because it is just a great platform for publishing: – easy, friendly and free) and as a dedicated reader of new, yet unknow authors (yes, indeed, there are a lot of hidden treasures to discover).

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