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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Interesting notice re romance and Scribd

As Mills & Boon and Harlequin know (and reap a lot of money out of it), romance readers are bulk readers. They engulf huge amounts of their favorite literature, and it seems that they are skewing the market.

Draft2Digital has sent out an interesting notice, describing that one of the eBook subscription services, Scribd, has big problems with this.

"As we all know," they say, "the concept of a subscription service for books is extremely new. There are several models on the market now for effectively monetizing subscriptions, and none of them exactly matches what we’re used to from traditional sales royalties. As the market experiments with different approaches, there are bound to be some missteps and false starts along the way. In fact, we should expect this business model to evolve even more in the near future.

"Scribd took a significant risk putting in place a model that paid authors the same amount as a retail model for each book read by a subscriber. As we all know, romance readers tend to be incredibly avid readers. In trying to cater to this voracious readership while under this progressive payment model, Scribd has put itself in a difficult place. In a bid to better balance these operating expenses, Scribd is immediately slashing the volume of romance novels in its subscription service."

Odd.  Very odd.  Perhaps the next step should be to categorize subscribers, and charge less or more according to the kind of literature they order.


Judith said...

So basically, they are ditching a whole lot of romances? Doesn't seem like a good way to build up a readership.

Joan Druett said...

I find the whole eBook subscription idea somewhat baffling. Premium membership, as they call it, is $8.99 a month. That would not go far if you were buying eBooks, so I suppose this is more like a subscription library. The difference here, or so I gather, is that they pay the authors royalties for every book "borrowed." So it is not just hitting the romance readers, whose choice is suddenly becoming restricted, but is hurting romance writers, too.

Shayne Parkinson said...

Yes, this came as quite a surprise (although it won't affect me directly -- unless they move on to hist fic next!)

Mark Coker has some interesting thoughts on this:

Joan Druett said...

Thanks for that, Shayne. A very interesting commentary. I like his idea of tiered subscriptions, which should help solve the problem. So far, Scribd seem to be crying out that they are hurting, but haven't found a decent solution yet -- as he said, they are using a very dull knife.