Subscriptions are Us! Oyster vs. eReatah

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/the-next-big-ebook-revolution/

Jeremy Greenfield:  The Next Big Ebook Revolution?

I knew the day would come when companies would start to figure that a subscription service on an e-product would be more profitable and advantageous then just having single titles rented or purchased.  The money is in the ability to build the subscription list and have residual dollars coming into the coffers at all times throughout the year.  That is why Jeremy Greenfield’s article on the DBW website was a very interesting vision of how two companies see his subscription service working.

OYSTER

“Oyster offers a Netflix style of service (unlimited access but not ownership)…”  1

I think this is the most appealing service given the fact that it is $10 per month with unlimited access.  This service would be like taking a library book out of the Public Library.  The low subscription rate and ability to save the space on the reading device after you finish reading a title would make this a very attractive option for someone who does not want to own an e-book, but just rent it to read it.  The question remains:  If the public library does the same thing for free for no subscription rate, then where is the up side to Oyster?  Availability of a title might be a key in this new business, but then again:

“Oyster offers 100,000 titles, but few are frontlist and few are bestsellers.”2

eReatah

eReatah is a subscription service that specializes in selling the e-book directly and “resembles Audible or a book club.”3   I’m not so sure about this business model.  In both cases (Oyster and eReatah) Amazon has over two-hundred thousand more titles than either of these new subscription entities.  Also, I must make it known that both the Greenfield article and the referenced article by Natt Hoffelder:  Comparing eBook Subscription Services Oyster, eReatah, and Kindle Owner’s Lending Library: Content, Price, and Availability, made it clear that neither of these services is available to the public at this time.

Nearest I can tell these models may get some traction in response to Amazon being the 800-pound gorilla in the e-Book business.  If that is the case, then the business should take off quickly once these two go online and they should be competitive if they can work with publishers to increase the availability of titles.  If they could at least get to 35-50% the number of titles that Amazon has available in the Kindle Prime program, they would be in very good shape.

Editorial Observations

The Oyster Model should be a winner since you are just renting a title until you finish it and then it is off your device saving space for the next title.  Although I can see some competition from libraries, the ability to avoid visiting a physical location for any interaction would make the Netflix model of Oyster much more attractive to a populace that wants to save, time, money, and gas.

The eReatah model could be a winner for people who want to own the e-Book outright and keep it in their reader archive to review any time they want.  The question here would be, “Well, I can go to the publisher’s sales portal and buy this title, or I can go to Amazon and buy this title.  Why does eReatah make sense for me?”  I cannot answer this question.  A third-party go-between seller and customer without a voluminous catalogue seems like an uphill fight to me.  There may be more discounts to the pricing that we are unaware of.  Also, since neither one of these services has newly published frontlist titles, the ability to discount might be another selling piece of the puzzle that has not been broadcast yet!

I like the fact that people are thinking out of the box on this subscription issue, I’m just not sure how ready the buying public is for a shake-up in how they buy/rent their e-Books.

Notes

1 and 2:  http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2013/09/05/comparing-ebook-subscription-services-oyster-ereatah-content-price-availability/#.UjUV00rnZdg

Follow me on Twitter:   @thebookkahuna

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