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Tolino Launches a Very Limited eBook Subscription Service, Tolino Select

This got little attention in the English-language press, but Tolino launched a new marketing effort last month at Frankfurt Book Fair.

It is being likened to Kindle Unlimited, but Tolino Select is far more limited than a Netflix-style reading service.

The way it works is that subscribers pay 10 euros per month to choose from a selection of 40 discounted titles. The selection changes each month, and subscribers can get up to four titles each month for the ten euro fee.

They’re not buying the ebooks, though; subscribers just get to read the ebooks so long as they continue to pay the monthly fee.

That’s not a very good deal for readers, and the terms offered to indie authors are almost as bad.

Indies Go German reported last month that the most an indie author could make was half a euro per borrow:

Indie authors are welcome to submit their books to the Tolino Select team. Simply contact them by mail or through this online form. To have a chance, your book needs to fulfill certain requirements:

  • No anthologies, only complete works
  • Books of at least 150 pages
  • Needs to cost at least 2.99 Euro for the duration of the enrollment
  • Must be available (published) at least 2 weeks before the start of enrollment
  • Must be distributed via Tolino Media

What’s in it for you?

If your book is chosen to be featured in Tolino Select you will receive 0.25 Euro per borrow (for prices below 4.99 Euro) or 0.50 Euro (for prices above 4.99 Euro). But ONLY if the book has been published less than 12 months ago. Older titles don’t receive any payout (but can also be submitted, of course).

If selected, your book is going to be featured next to traditionally published books, which means higher visibility. In addition, each borrow will be counted as a sale, so your book can rise in the sales charts. For first books in a series, this might work well to drive sales to the other books.

Out of 10 euros per month, Tolino is keeping eight and paying out two (at best).

What a racket.

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Xaver Basora November 7, 2017 um 6:55 pm

And the Euro publishers complain that no one reads ebook. All they cry that the youth aren’t reading books. Golly why is that? Aside from the unwarranted high prices keeping 80% of the royalties really shows good faith commitment to encouraging new writer. Um huh

I really despise the Euro publishers and their paper cargo cult fetish superstition.
They need to get with it and offer book in all formats as really affordable prices. And the 5% discount needs to go.

Scholaris November 8, 2017 um 3:23 am

This is not a "Euro publisher" – this is a distributor/seller. And yes this does not look like a good deal and so he will be punished for it by not getting buyers and authors to participate. Simple. But it is NOT a publisher. The rest is just ranting, and what 5%? Never heard about that in the business. Cheers

Tim November 8, 2017 um 6:43 am

Tolino Select a.k.a please go and pirate our ebooks. And the middle finger to the authors.
You would be better of with just Prime Reading for Amazon prime members, which is 5,75€ per month and gives you access to about 500 ebooks and emagazines plus all the other good stuff you get with prime…

Stefan M. November 8, 2017 um 10:59 am

This is NOT a racket in the form described above as the selection includes books by traditional publishers, too – and I would be very much surprised if the same terms were applied to them. So Tolino will be paying out much more than €2 from each €10 they get… (especially if you consider that traditional publishers' books might prove more popular).

For readers it might be interesting and a good bargain (for example, the current offer includes traditionally published ebooks with a retail price of €9.99). And there might be readers who welcome the idea of a selection, as they don’t have to search through tons of stuffed ebooks etc. that are cluttering Kindle Unlimited.

Of course, rates for indie authors are underwhelming, but I would suggest to see this rather as a sort of promotion opportunity, one you don’t have to pay for.

It will be interesting to see if it works out for Tolino in the long run. I guess a lot will depend on how much they pay traditional publishers, how willing those publishers are to stay on board and what books they contribute to the selection.

Nate Hoffelder November 8, 2017 um 11:32 am

I think it’s a racket on the user side.

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