The metaphorical chartering of the digital waters, for better or for worse, shapes the future of book publishing. Although some believe that the print book will become extinct with the popularity of the ebook, there are innovative ways of reaching online readers that increase their interest in the book as a product whether physical or not.
My blog specifically looks at the role that subscription services like Oyster (American) and Scribd (Canadian) play in the book world. (Read a 2013 review of Oyster as a service here.) By inserting myself into the ongoing dialogue on subscriptions, I examine how these services impact the reader’s relationship with the book as a product to be purchased and read and, subsequently, the authors and the publishers’ relationship with the reader; the potential downfalls of publishers’ collaboration with Oyster and Scribd, its impact on creativity and quality; and the possibilities for pricing, royalties, and revenue.
Although my focus is on the subscription model, more and more the issues of discoverability and profitability surface. Many publishers are effectively “mining their backlist” with subscriptions, maximizing revenue on older titles that are no longer allocated marketing support. The subscription model’s hot topics of discussion inevitably raise concerns that a similar, yet different online business strategy addresses – short form content publishing and pay-as-you-read models. What is most fascinating to me is how these conflicting models have emerged in response to our society’s time and money demands and as part of the never-ending experimentation of publishers and content providers. Join me in “fleshing out,” as one of my old English professors used to say, the existence of these models in our digital world.