One Way Ebook Subscription Services Could Work

Why don’t digital content subscription services work that well? Why aren’t Netflix or Hulu wildly successful?
There are myriad reasons (competition, cost of content, free alternatives like piracy, content curation, to name a few), but one basic one stands out: You don’t want everything they give you.
Imagine a subscription service that was flexible based on what you wanted and needed – allowed you to skip a month if you were going to be indisposed or add more goods a la carte at no markup. Imagine if you could pay less every month on your cable bill by pruning away those channels you don’t watch (there are many reasons why this wouldn’t necessarily work for the cable TV industry). That would be great customer service. And, as Amazon has shown us, great customer service gets you far in the digital era.
Brett Sandusky calls it a “modular subscription.” It’s a mass-market offering with a bespoke feel to it (not unlike Dell’s pitch to computer shoppers a decade ago). If one of the ebook subscription start-ups can figure out how to apply the principle to ebooks, it could be just the thing that helps the promising but deeply challenged idea of a mass-market ebook subscription service get over the hump.

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The rest of the day’s top news:
Targeting, Testing and Success in Social Media (DBW)
Social media: It’s so easy, right? It’s free media that can reach a wide audience and has the potential to “go viral.” Thing is, it’s not that easy. It takes targeting, testing and very clever ideas. Here are some.
A Chink in the Supply Chain (The Shatzkin Files)
Slow erosion of physical book sales at Barnes & Noble stores could turn what has historically been an advantage into a big problem for the nation’s last truly national bookstore chain.
DBW2013: The Technological Future of Books (New Yorker)
A reporter for The New Yorker was on the scene at DBW and she was impressed, overwhelmed and maybe a little confused at what she saw.
DBW2013: Photo Gallery! (A.E. Fletcher)
Hundreds of photos of speakers, exhibitors and, most important of all, you enjoying DBW 2013. Not to mention amazing shots of 1,300 publishing digerati in one room. (Missed out? Watch the video!)
DBW’s First Ebook (DBW)
Titled Finding the Future of Digital Publishing: Interviews With 19 Innovative Ebook Business Leaders, the ebook is about digital leadership in book publishing during this period of disruption. It’s available for free until Feb.
HarperCollins Wants More Consumer Insights (DBW)
With the hire of David Boyle as senior vice president of consumer insights, HarperCollins is continuing in its effort to better understand consumers.
Anobii Becomes eBooks by Sainsbury’s (The Bookseller)
Ebookselling start-up backed by HarperCollins, Random House and Penguin, was essentially acquired (64% stake, that is) by UK retail chain Sainsbury’s. Six months later, the name is changed, terms and conditions and its privacy policy will change, but the same “social network for book lovers” will persist. One thing: Didn’t Sainsbury’s get the memo that “eBooks” are out?

Ebook Sharing Between Libraries (
A consortium of Nova Scotia university libraries has successfully negotiated a new deal with publishers wherein it will be able to share ebooks between the libraries just like it shares physical books.
Ingram Adds New Ebook Access Model for Libraries (DBW)
The ebook distributor will offer libraries a credit purchase option that will allow them to economically lend multiple copies of one title to multiple patrons for a set period.
Is CBS Interested in Selling Simon & Schuster? (Investor Place)
According to one analyst, if it’s not, it should be.
Apple Sells 70 Million More E-Readers Over Holidays (DBW)
Investors hammered Apple for a strong but unusual earnings report. Publishers, however, should be more concerned with the fact that Apple sold nearly 23 million iPads and 48 million iPhones over the 13-week holiday period – that’s about 70 million more e-reading devices in the marketplace.
Kobo Snags a Former Apple Exec to Oversee Further Expansion (DBW)
Kobo has appointed Jean-Marc Dupuis, a former sales director at Apple, as its new managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Kindle Invades Kobo’s Territory (DBW)
The popular Kindle Paperwhite is now available at
New York Post’s First Ebook: Sex Tips (Capital New York)
If we in publishing have learned one thing from 2012, it’s that sex sells when it comes to ebooks. The New York Post has known that sex sells for a long time and is merely extending that knowledge to its first ebook – a compendium of sex advice from Ashley Dupre, the Post columnist best known as “Client No. 9” and for her relations with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

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