Battle of Ebook Subscription Services

oysterAs two ebook subscription services plan to launch this fall, the book publishing industry is still grappling with how to deal with this new digital business model, reports the Wall Street Journal.

EReatah, a North Carolina-based start-up, has reportedly inked a deal with Simon & Schuster, Sourcebooks and other publishers for a “limited” ebook subscription service. Much-discussed New York-based start-up Oyster would not confirm to the newspaper if it had signed up any large publishers.

When it comes to their struggles, ebook subscription services perhaps have the least to fear from each other. The real battle will be fought with publishers, authors and agents, who may not go for a Spotify-like business model for publisher and artist compensation. The battle will also be fought with consumers, who will need to be convinced that they should pay $5.00 or $10.00 a month to read all they want when buying the books that most people read in a year would often cost far less on an annual basis.

One possible solution for these digital book start-ups: Look to youth.

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Cheap Nook HD (The Digital Reader)
Another sign that Barnes & Noble way overestimated the demand for its Nook tablets: The high-end version of the device – the Nook HD – was found at an online outlet this weekend for $90. We repeat: a high-def tablet computer for $90.


Txtr Beagle No More? (The Digital Reader)
Depending on your translation of the German word “ausverkauft,” Beagle from txtr may be no more. The reason we’re mentioning this is that the Beagle has represented the promise of ultra-cheap or free e-readers. It was to cost $13.


Profits Rise Even as Revenues Slow at Random House (Pub Lunch)
Random House announced its first-half results – the last time the company will be doing that as an independent operator. Going forward, it will be Penguin Random House results. The company’s revenue was down nearly 4% but profits were up roughly the same amount, setting a new first-half record for the company.


Dohle Rallies the Troops (The Bookseller)
In a staff letter announcing the company’s results, Penguin Random House CEO recapped his trip to meet more than 8,000 of the company’s employees around the world and basically told them to keep up the good work.


More Money for Ebook Buyers (WSJ)
The amount of money Amazon estimated its customers would receive as part of the ebook price-fixing settlement has increased to over $3 per title – at the high end. More money for readers to buy more ebooks.


Amazon Takes Lead in Japanese Ebook Market (NYTimes)
In a long explainer about what’s happening in the war for e-reader and ebook market share in Japan, the New York Times presumes Amazon the winner in a country that has all-of-the-sudden become an important battleground for digital reading. Related: Kobo’s New Devices.


Kobo Strikes Back (Good E Reader)
It might be a small thing, but Kobo seems to have abandoned use of Goodreads to populate some of its book reviews and ratings. It could be part of an attempt to limit the power of Goodreads among its readers and also limit its own dependence on the third-party service.


Kobo-ABA: A Year Later (PW)
A year after it launched a program to help local bookstores sell ebooks and e-readers, bookshop owners are still reporting low revenues and profits from the program, but a lot of enthusiasm for using ebooks and e-readers to retain customers. The DBW version of this same story, from the spring: Indie Bookstore Sales of Kobo Ebooks Dwarf Google; Still Small.


Kobo Parent Rakuten Acquires Video Start-up (Dow Jones Newswire)
Kobo parent company Rakuten – also known as the “Amazon of Japan” – has acquired Viki, a Singapore-based foreign language video-on-demand start-up.


Sony’s New E-Reader (Good E Reader)
According to the experts, the new Sony e-reader, given the catchy name PRS-T3, isn’t too much of an improvement from its predecessor, the PRS-T2.


Bloomsbury Continues to Diversify (DBW)
UK publisher Bloomsbury has acquired UK legal publisher Hart in a continuing mission to diversify its holdings.


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