The first salvo has been fired in this fall’s ebook subscription platform wars in the U.S., by far the largest e-reading market. A North Carolina-based start-up, eReatah, has launched what it calls a “groundbreaking” e-book subscription service.
The company is offering three plans for users to read ebooks: two ebooks per month for $16.99, three for $25.50, or four for $33.50. Meanwhile, the average price of a best-selling ebook was $6.33 as of last week. Readers who use eReatah, however, fully own the ebooks they read, according to a press release from the company (below), as opposed to renting or streaming them.
“Own,” in the world of ebooks, is a contentious word. EReatah customers will own their books the same way that Kindle customers own theirs: That is to say, they will license them.
“They [the ebooks] are protected by Adobe DRM just like any other ebook is,” said Bryan Batten, founder and CEO, confirming that users would license the ebooks and will not be able to re-sell them, a capability that print book ownership confers. The ebooks will still be available to users even if they no longer pay for the app, which is available on iOS and Android platforms.
The company launches with 80,000 titles in its catalog, including titles from Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Open Road Media, Sourcebooks and Workman.
The company is in open talks with several “corporate” publishers, Batten told Digital Book World, and is confident that it will have 100,000 to 150,000 ebooks in its catalog by the end of the year. The company is also looking at adding self-published titles to the mix. Talks with Smashwords, however, were started and then stopped.
One sticking point with ebook subscription services has been the objections of authors, agents and publishers, who worry about compensation and undercutting other book distribution methods.
According to eReatah’s press release: “Founder Bryan Batten spent two years developing and implementing a mainstream e-book subscription model with terms that are acceptable to all parties: publishers, authors and readers.” The company isn’t sharing the details of this arrangement, according to both Batten and a company spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has reported that New York-based Oyster, another ebook subscription start-up, is set to launch this fall.
eReatah Launches Private Beta of the First Cross-Genre E-book Subscription Service
Monthly Plans Allow Users to Read More, Spend Less and Discover Great Books through Personalized Recommendations
eReatah (www.eReatah.com), a groundbreaking e-book subscription service that offers 80,000+ titles spanning every genre, launched its private beta today. Available for all iPads, iPhones (iOS) and Android devices, the Web- and app-based service allows users to choose from three different plans and acquire e-books for 20 – 40+% less than their average retail price.
eReatah offers personalized recommendations based on the user’s reading history and on similar selections enjoyed by other eReatah members. eReatah’s recommendation system has the unique ability to read and analyze the books a member has read in order to find books that share similar topics and themes. The service also offers a fun and unique “If These Two Books Had A Baby…” feature that enables the user to select any two book titles and find books that combine aspects of both.
Additional eReatah features include:
— Device-independence; the eReatah app can even be sideloaded for Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet or Kobo Tablet
— Choice of three plans (two e-books per month for $16.99, three for $25.50 or four for $33.50) with ability to change or cancel at any time
— Convenient in-app downloading process
— Ability to access downloaded e-books on up to six different devices
— Full ownership of all downloaded e-books; eReatah is not a rental or streaming service
— New titles added as they are released
— Referral program with gift card prizes
Founder Bryan Batten spent two years developing and implementing a mainstream e-book subscription model with terms that are acceptable to all parties: publishers, authors and readers. The company has already signed agreements with many of the world’s leading publishers/distributors, including Berrett-Koehler, Diversion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Independent Publishers Group, Ingram Content Group, Open Road Integrated Media, Simon & Schuster, Sourcebooks and Workman. Additional publishers will be added when the site goes into general availability.
“My goal with eReatah was to design a subscription service that I myself wanted to use,” said Batten. “As a reader, I like to be the person who finds a great book that none of my friends have read, so I can recommend it to them. While eReatah’s library contains many of the best-sellers, we are also excited about our recommendation engine, which can help introduce lesser-heralded masterpieces to users so they can become curators and share those special finds.”
“We are excited to work with eReatah and have this unique opportunity to learn about consumer behavior in discovering and purchasing books from alternative sources,” said Doug Stambaugh, Vice President, Global eBook Market Development and Strategy, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
eReatah’s recommendation system was designed in collaboration with Pattern Explorations Ltd, a company founded by Professor Nicholas Ampazis that specializes in machine learning, data mining and statistical modeling. Professor Ampazis was previously a member of The Ensemble, one of the two Netflix Prize competitors whose solution bested Netflix’s own algorithm for predicting user ratings by more than 10%.
eReatah is the U.S.’s first and only cross-genre e-book subscription service. Founded by Bryan Batten in March 2011, the Web and app-based service offers three different subscription plans allowing readers to download two, three or four books a month saving users between 20 – 40+% compared to the average e-book purchase price. It also boasts a powerful recommendation engine and one-step e-book downloading process. eReatah is the only mainstream e-book subscription service working in conjunction with any of the major trade publishing houses. eReatah is based in Wilmington, NC.