Will people stream books like movies and TV shows? That’s what two book subscription services are betting. For a monthly fee. subscribers can select and download books for reading. Publishers and authors then receive a fee from the service. Both Oyster and Scribd offer monthly subscription models for readers. Both have been in the news recently for large deals with New York publishers, but both are open to working with independents and self-published authors.
Launched in 2007 by Trip Adler and Jared Friedman, Scribd claims 80 million active readers coming to the site every month. Readers can chose to read material on a variety of devices by using the Scribd app of their choice and material will sync between devices (so a reader can start a book on a phone and finish it on a tablet). In December, Scribd began offering titles published through Smashwords. “Ever since Scribd launched in 2007, I’ve admired their publishing platform, their commitment to content creators and their social reading technology,” said Mark Coker, CEO and founder of Smashwords at the time of the announcement.
Launched at the end of 2013, the Oyster subscription service charges users $9.95 a month to read as many e-books as they like. Once the book is read, it returns to the service and the reader no longer owns a copy. Netflix is often cited as the model for Oyster. Like Scribd, Oyster has an agreement with Smashwords to distribute its ebooks.
Publishers not on Smashwords but interested in Scribd can fill out a simple application form to have their works appear on the website. Oyster also will work directly with publishers who have large backlists and more information can be found on Oyster’s Publisher FAQ page.
We recently heard from a BPNW member that they saw Oyster showing up on their Smashwords royalty report. We’d love to hear from other members on whether or not they are using these services and what they think about them.