Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Another ebook subscription service was announced last week and this one is aimed at children. Epic! launched with 2,000 titles in an “all-you-can-read” model for $9.99 a month. There are a couple of other kids’ subscription services, Bookboard with 400 titles and Amazon’s Kindle Free Time Unlimited with ebooks, apps, games and videos. Plus there are also branded subscription services from Sesame Street (150 ebooks each month) and a Disney App with bundles of up to 27 ebooks for $19.99. Disney is not necessarily a subscription, but it is a lot of titles for a very reduced rate. Reading Rainbow is one of the original subscription plans and has hundreds of books, games, videos. Plus there is a focus on learning.
Libraries have always been integral to introducing children to read and they offer unlimited reading for the ebooks. Some use a service called BrainHive, which offers over 5,000 ebooks through libraries at $1 per download. The library pays once the book is checked out.
A few reasons why ebook subscription services and bundling make sense for children’s books:
1) Children love to jump from book to book. Plus, many kids will look at a dozen books a day. The flexibility of just reading any book for a fee works well for children who read bits and pieces of many books.
2) Brands are dominant in children’s books and it makes sense to offer a subscription within the brands. The rights are usually held by a single entity and enough can be secured to make the plan worthwhile. Sesame Street has a service with 150 rotating ebooks for $3.99 a month.
3) Children are more likely to want to consume cross-media. Amazon’s Kindle Free Time Unlimited ($2.99 for Prime members) has hundreds of games, videos and enhanced ebooks. A Story Before Bed offers up to 500 books that the child (or adult) can record their own narration. This service costs $9.99 per month for unlimited usage.
4) Curation is done by a trusted source. By creating a “walled playground,” parents can trust that their children won’t venture off to some non-kid materials. Bookboard has 400 titles available and has a children’s librarian curate the collection. Epic! has a board of experts from children’s publishing selecting the list.
5) Tracking the child’s reading – these specialized subscription platforms all track the child’s reading habits. There can be huge educational benefits to an all-you-can-read. Although Scholastic’s Storia is not an all-you-can-read subscription, it is a service that helps parents and teachers track the student’s reading habits.
Ebooks have opened up an array of new ways to consume information. Children are using tablets more and more. This explosion of usage will lead to a need for more content that is organized and directed to kids. Subscription models seem to be a natural fit for children’s books.
I have listed some of the new offerings. If you know of more, please add in the comments. I would enjoy seeing all the options.