When you think of book subscription services, if you think about them, you probably think of Oyster first, regardless of the fact that Scribd offers nearly the same service. This morning, Scribd finally gave us a reason they might pull ahead in the race to be the “Netflix for Books.”
Scribd has added 30,000 audio books to their book subscription service. Considering both leading book subscription companies have partnerships with Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, this is the first major play to put Scribd squarely ahead of Oyster in terms of offerings.
The Future of the Ebook
It comes as a surprise that Simon & Schuster is launching yet another new books site, called 250 Words.
The publisher’s first foray into literary websites was Bookish, a book recommendation site started by the Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and Penguin USA.
Last month, we learned that Bookish had been sold to the e-book retailer Zola. It seems it was unable to compete with huge sites with Amazon, and struggled to draw in readers since its significantly delayed 2013 launch.
Our sources tell us the publishing groups sold Bookish, which had reportedly received $20 million in funding, at a pretty serious loss.
So the debut of 250 Words seems strange, given that the last attempt at a books site was hardly a best-seller. Mediabistro reported yesterday that the publishing company has just launched 250 Words, a site that aims to become “a hub for intelligent business thinking, with a focus on books.”
The Tao of Steve
Good news for cheapskates, bad news for traditional publishing: “Agency pricing,” which many in the book business had hoped would prove a defense against Amazon’s discounting every new book to $9.99, is pretty much finito as of today.
A bit of background: At issue is the agency model, which first came into play when Apple debuted the iPad and began talking to publishers about ebooks. Apple liked the sound of an agency model, where publishers would set the price and and Apple would merely act as agent, taking a cut of the transaction. This looked like a way of finally breaking Amazon’s iron-fisted insistence on charging $9.99 for a standard new release, which would otherwise go for $25.00 in print.
This morning, Simon & Schuster announced it would be moving up the release date of its authorized Steve Jobs biography from November 21st to October 24th, reports the Associated Press. The book, which changed its title from “iSteve: The Book of Jobs” to the more timeless “Steve Jobs,” is currently number one on Amazon’s best-seller’s list and number three on Barnes & Noble’s website.