The Subscription Model

This week, I read about how Sesame Street opened a new ebook line last December. As this article in Publisher’s Weekly states , this isn’t an ordinary ebook line. It’s is based on a subscription model, where consumers pay a yearly fee of $24.99 and can access over 100 books in the Sesame Street Database. As of right now, the reader needs to download a special application and be hooked up to the internet to read the books, but it seems like the parent company is making advances and doing what it can to allow readers to read offline.

I thought that this was a new concept, but learned that Disney has already put in place an ebook line where subscribers can access an online library of more than 500 classic and contemporary titles for $8.95 a month or $79.95 a year. Both Sesame Street and Disney claim that there is wide interest in this “Subscription Model” from consumers.

So, is this the next “Big Thing?” I think this might be something to keep an eye on. As a reader, I kind of like this “Netflix” approach to reading, as I very seldom read a book more than once.  Although these ebook lines are underneath a single company umbrella, I could see something like this happening with secondary retailers, where the royalty payout would be based on how many times a book is downloaded in any given month.

How else might it impact the industry? This “subscription” concept might open the door for readers to try new authors relatively risk free.  In addition, I wonder how this might impact the pirating of ebooks. If people can’t download a file and are forced to read online, then it will be harder to steal the book and put it up on the internet for free.

We have already seen this trend in the music industry, with companies like “Napster to Go” and “Rhapsody.” It only makes sense that the publishing industry would try out similar models.

So what do people think? As a reader, does the subscription model appeal to you? Is it priced right, or do you think it’s too high? As a writer, what do you think the subscription model will mean for the book industry in general and your books in particular?

2 Responses to “The Subscription Model”
  1. I think it would be a win for readers and for writers. Readers would get more books for their money. Writers would get exposure and, as you said, a little more protection from piracy. I know since we began using Netflix I’ve watched movies I might never have tried and ended up loving them!

    I would be very excited if an e-book publisher decided to do this and would probably submit to them if I wasn’t already one of their authors.

    Also seems like something Kindle or Nook could do to set themselves apart. For X amount of dollars you get X amount of downloads. Publishers could opt in or opt out the way movies do on the instant streaming feature of Netflix.

    Great post, Suzanne!

  2. Suzanne Rock says:

    I would have to agree on all accounts, Barbara. This idea fascinates me, and I think it will be a boon to both readers and writers. It will be interesting to see if something like this catches on, and how it will develop…

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