I recently read the article on the Inc.com web site, by Stephanie Myers: Why Are E-book Subscription Start-Ups So Hot? This article introduced a new player to the E-book subscription marketplace in the form of Scribd. Scribd is a subscription service that is catering to people with the ability to read their E-books on iPhones, iPads, Android devices and web browsers. This new subscription service costs $8.99 per month and is touted as yielding millions of selections to choose from. In her article, Ms. Myers also lays out the argument that I put forth in a previous blog post:
that subscription services are in direct competition with the public library.
In Ms. Myers article, she expounds the fundamental reason why people are not interested in getting their E-books from the public library. The main crux of the argument against people getting their E-books from the library seems to center around the initial setup that the patron has to go through to become an E-book download subscriber from the library. In thinking about this I thought the arguments for this consternation at getting E-books from the public library did not hold water.
For the most part, one of the basic parts of getting an E-book from the public library is having Adobe Reader on your computer. This is such a basic necessity in any computing environment in the year 2013, I would think that most people already have Adobe Reader on their computer or, if not, quickly download a copy from Adobe.com in the initial setup for a laptop or desktop computer. There are so many different documents that need to be downloaded in PDF form (most instruction manuals for any appliance), that there is almost no way to function in a computer environment without having the ability to open and read PDF files with Adobe Reader. Once you have your computer or reading device setup for E-book downloads from the library, this process would be a pretty streamlined and straightforward activity without much hassle or inconvenience.
My experience with taking out an E-book from the from the library has not occurred yet, but I have been told that if you have a library card with a number code, then that number is your account access and taking out an E-book and downloading it would almost be akin to renewing a print book that you already had out on loan. I do not think that the argument about the public library is one that is going to really raise much of a competitive issue going forward. There are so many people in the United States who never enter the public library building in their town, that the library will not be a major player in this race for consumer content dollars.
The real test of how well the subscription E-book Services will do will revolve around how many titles the individual subscription services have to offer and are these titles newly published within the last year or so. The battle between Amazon, Scribd, Oyster, eReatah, and any other E-book subscription service that begins operations in the near future will be won or lost based on the following criteria:
- What service has the biggest catalog to offer?
- Does the consumer get perceived value for their dollars?
- Are there any future possible discounts available to a subscription consumer?
- Will the consuming public opt for renting the E-book rather than owning the E-book?
- What publishers will align with which subscription services?
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As I said in my previous blog post, I am a technophile and feel that any innovation in the E-book distribution and dissemination to consumers will be a positive in the long run. Only time will tell what services will be left standing but since the public library and Netflix are examples of successful content-lending distribution centers, there will be room for a myriad of players in the content subscription market.
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