Are subscription models the future of book monetization?

Following the US debut of Kindle Unlimited in July, Amazon is launching their eBook subscription service in the UK.

Dubbed ‘the Netflix for Books’, the £7.99 service offers unlimited access to over 650,000 eBooks and more than 2,000 audiobooks, including many popular titles such as the Harry Potter series and Hunger Games trilogy.

With Spotify for music and Netflix for TV and film, it was only a matter of time before increasingly popular subscription models made an appearance in the world of books. With the launch of Oyster, a leading streaming service for books, in the US just over a year ago, it was inevitable that Amazon would move to compete in this space and it’s highly likely that we’ll see big name book publishers start to make inroads as well.

The future of book monetization has been transformed, by these two new entrants. This move towards massive content aggregation will make gauging consumer trends a lot easier for Amazon, provided they make good use of the data. The popularity of genres in particular demographics could potentially be predicted and editorial decisions, such as what books they decide to green-light through their publishing arm, could be based off of this. Naturally, publishers already make use of this sort of data, but the scale of what Unlimited could provide is far more broad than anything seen before.

For authors, it’s a double-edged sword. Content aggregation and subscription models mean that, as content is pooled together, revenue becomes less tied to one specific product, making signing away exclusivity a problem. At the same time, if an author can strike a deal where he can sell independently and be featured on Kindle Unlimited, they stand to reap the benefits.

This comes amidst an already turbulent relationship between Amazon, publishers and their authors, sparked by the heavily publicized dispute between Amazon and Hachette earlier in the year. Will Kindle Unlimited increase this pressure, or indeed help to alleviate it? Only time will tell…



Categories: eBooks

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