Scribd Adjusts Subscription Model under Strain

Scribd romance Smashwords subscription ebooksScribd cuts an unspecified number of romance and erotica ebooks from its subscription-based catalog, apparently because paying its content partners based on readers’ activity in the genre is becoming too burdensome.

“We’ve grown to such a point that we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to grow in a sustainable way,” Scribd CEO Trip Adler explained this week. To do that, Scribd will begin “rotating titles in and out” of its offering and pushing for “more mutually beneficial terms” with publishers, Adler said.

Scribd isn’t the only such service that’s tinkering with the model. Amazon recently announced it’s adjusting the payment scheme for its own subscription program, Kindle Unlimited.

All of which raises new questions—and, for some, appears to answer old ones—about the model’s future.

Much more.

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If the Romance Lasts, So Might Subscription Ebooks (Futurebook)
According to Smashwords CEO Mark Coker, the high-volume romance readers Scribd appears to be struggling to serve under its current model represent the true test for subscription ebooks writ large. In a thorough assessment of reactions to the news that Scribd is paring down its romance catalog, Coker explains why he sees it that way.

Reviewing Apple’s Regrets (Fortune)
“Instead of being able to piggy-back on the market position of its publishing partners in order to gain entry into this new market,” one observer writes, “Apple hitched its e-book wagon to an industry that was already actively engaged in collusion over prices—and desperately trying to resist the future. And ultimately it was the giant electronics company that got crushed under the wheels of that wagon.” But even if Apple itself has reason to rue its earlier deals with publishers (which, by the way, likely don’t see things this way), it may not stop the tech company from appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why the Supreme Court Might Side with Apple (Yahoo Finance)
If Apple does as it’s expected to and appeals this week’s ruling to the Supreme Court, one industry watcher claims it stands a good shot of swaying a majority of the justices. The dissent in the latest two-to-one decision, in this view, is “just this sort of logical and theoretical examination, devoid of real world analysis, that the five justices on the Supreme Court frequently employ in their most controversial pro-business decisions.”

What’s a Page Worth on Amazon? (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
For starters, it’s important to stress that at this stage, trying to guess is a mug’s game. Amazon has yet to say how much its reserving in the payment fund for KDP Select authors for July, and it’s hard to know how many pages customers will end up reading. But—bearing those considerable caveats in mind—one author works out a rough estimate of what some authors might expect to be paid per page, and comes up with around $0.0058.

Pronoun Says It’s Looking after Authors (Pub Perspectives)
But who’s looking after Pronoun? Investors, you might say. Formerly Vook, the newly rebranded Pronoun raised $3.5 million in funding last month and bills itself as among the most author-centric self-publishing platforms around. CEO Josh Brody explains Pronoun’s wish to “create a more favorable market for authors” by offering a robust slate of free services. But details remain scarce on precisely how “this new way of publishing has the potential to create a business model that’s more favorable for everyone”—including for Pronoun, whose plan to generate revenue so far remains out of view.
Related: Have Authors Been Getting a Raw Deal?

Google Wants More Eyeballs on Low Prices (WSJ)
In what some see as a sign that Google is moving into closer competition with Amazon on e-commerce, the search giant launches a pilot program to highlight products at certain retailers that are priced significantly lower than elsewhere.

Amazon Takes One-Hour Delivery to London (BBC)
The e-tailer takes it Prime Now one-hour delivery service to Prime subscribers in parts of London, with one leader at Amazon UK saying, “This is only the beginning…we are already working on making Prime Now available in more postcodes in London and beyond.”

Digital Comics Sales Rise (PW)
Recent data points to an 11% uptick in sales of digital comics last year as compared with 2013, in a year when the category saw growth across all formats. And while the rate of digital sales growth is slowing down, researchers affirm that “digital appears to be complementing, rather than cannibalizing, print.”

We Need Diverse Books Grows, Looks Ahead (PW)
The campaign that has emerged as a formal organization after a debate last year around diversity of representation within books as well as diversity within the publishing industry’s own ranks now expands its leadership team in order to pursue that vision going forward.


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