Macmillan Wades Deeper into Subscription Ebooks

Macmillan Scribd Oyster subscription ebooksWhat began at Macmillan as a tentative (and even downright reluctant) experiment with subscription ebooks early this year is now steadily expanding.

The publisher adds more than 1,000 additional back-list titles apiece to both Scribd and Oyster’s subscription-based catalogs, expansions that roughly double its offerings on the two platforms. A portion of both new batches are kids’ ebooks, a category Macmillan is also testing on the children’s content subscription service Epic!

Scribd recently dropped an undisclosed number of romance ebooks from its catalog, apparently struggling to pay content creators for the high-volume reading subscribers were clocking in that genre.

The company says its offering still totals over 1 million titles across ebooks, audiobooks and digital comics and that still has plans to grow.

Much more.

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Containing the Hullaballoo over Subscription Models (FutureBook)
Nathan Hull, of the Denmark-based subscription content provider Mofibo, wants no part in North Americans’ hand-wringing over the viability of the model. “In Europe,” he says, “Oyster, Scribd, Kindle Unlimited largely do not currently operate locally with a local mentality. They only remotely scrape up whatever rights they can.” That, coupled with all the latest “commotion,” threatens to stymie an otherwise promising model in Europe’s still young ebook markets.

Go Give Away a Watchman (The Shatzkin Files)
Commenting on news that two leading national newspapers in the U.S. and UK, respectively, both scored first serialization rights to Harper Lee’s hotly anticipated novel Go Set a Watchman, Digital Book World Conference Chair Mike Shatzkin sees it as a hefty marketing loss. “Just think about what the publishers are giving up by doing these deals. All that traffic and a slew of Google-juicing inbound links could have been coming to their site[s]” instead, and with it the opportunity to gather valuable email leads.

Mergers and Acquisitions Still Abundant (Pub Lunch)
The publishing industry’s M&A activity isn’t quite as hot as it was last year, but the past six months still saw several major deals go through. Publishers Lunch has a thorough roundup of the latest transactions.

Barnes & Noble Site Restores Marketplace (Pub Lunch)
The bookseller’s newly relaunched website went live without the Marketplace section where affiliated merchants distribute goods, including books, to Barnes & Noble’s online shoppers. That component is now back up and running.

Abingdon Shutters Fiction Program (PW)
The Christian publisher halts new acquisitions for its fiction list as sales fall for Christian fiction industry-wide, but Abingdon has no changes planned for its nonfiction line. The publisher began making strategic adjustments to publishing program last summer.

Consolidations in Italian Publishing Landscape (Pub Lunch)
Mondadori Libri makes an offer to acquire its competitor RCS Libri for an undisclosed sum that is thought to be around €135 million. Separately, three top literary agencies merge to create The Italian Agency.

Exploring iBooks Author’s Limits (Talking New Media)
Building mobile-ready interactive ebooks using Apple’s iBooks Author tool points up some of the system’s limitations, according to one industry watcher who’s tried it. Of course, you could argue the platform wasn’t developed to resolve the whole gamut of complex digital production issues for the mobile environment. Still, this case study offers a partial glimpse as some of the challenges to using iBooks Author to generate interactive content for mobile readers.

ICYMI: Fonts and Nonsense (DBW)
Amazon’s new Bookerly typeface for Kindle and Literata for Google Play Books both promise to improve the e-reading experience for users across the board. A leading ebook developer and top digital typographer team up to examine just how far those innovations go and explain where they fall short.


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