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    Will E-Book Subscription Services Change the Way We Read?

    Would you pay a monthly subscription fee to have access to an unlimited number of ebooks?

    Several startup services are betting that you will.

    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Building on the model of subscription services like Netflix with movies and TV shows and Spotify with music, Scribd which has raised $25 million from venture capitalists offers an $8.99 monthly subscription. Oyster, with $17 million in start-up funding, has a $9.95 monthly fee.

    Oyster co-founder Eric Stromberg told the NY Times Deal Book Blog “The thesis is that over the next five to 10 years, more reading will happen on tablets and phones. We’re trying to create an experience that will lead the way.”

    Stromberg’s company has signed up a number of big publishers, including HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin, as well as smaller ones like Workman Publishing and Perseus.

    Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    Forbes reported in December that Scribd, with an estimated 80 million users which also offers titles from Big 6 publishers ,  had signed a deal with e-book publisher Smashwords to add 225,000 indie titles to its catalog. All 70,000 Smashwords authors get a free year subscription to Scribd which will also sell Smashwords books on its site.

    The big players in the marketplace are watching carefully. “Looming over these start-ups is Amazon, which has already dabbled in the subscription area,” reports the NY Times “Kindle owners who are members of Amazon’s $79 annual Prime shipping service are eligible to borrow from a library of 350,000 titles. The program has had limited impact because users can borrow only one book at a time, and it offers few best-sellers.”

    What do you think of the idea of e-book subscription services? Would you subscribe? Leave a comment.

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