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Three questions for…Christian Damke of Skoobe

Subscription models improve discovery and offer a new revenue stream

This short interview with Christian Damke of Skoobe is a preview to the the Elusive ‘Netflix of Ebooks’ session he’s part of at TOC NY 2013 in February.  Use the discount code below to register for the event and learn more about the Skoobe model.

1. What is Skoobe?

Skoobe is an ebook subscription service for smartphones and tablets featuring fiction and non-fiction trade books. Members can read as many books as they want. There are no out-of-stock titles at Skoobe; every ebook is available always and everywhere. The free app allows you to read extracts of all available books without registration or payment and is also widely used [as a discovery tool] to find new books for later purchase. The membership costs 9.99 Euros per month and is automatically renewed every month. Since our launch in February 2012 we have been consistently among the most downloaded apps in the books category and have been awarded 4.5 stars on average both in the Appstore as well as in Google Play.

2. There’s been a lot of talk about renting vs. owning e-content and even a skeptic like me is finally coming around to the concept. I would be more attracted to a vertical subscription though. For example, I’m a big sports fan, so I’d be willing to pay $10/month for unlimited access to a sports ebook library but probably not for a much broader one that doesn’t have as many sports books. Which model do you feel will win out in the end: broad, general subscription programs or more vertical ones that focus on a particular genre?

Skoobe aims to enlarge the market for major publishers by offering easy ebook access to price-sensitive readers who don’t necessarily want to own the books. Our members are looking for engagement, quality, and ease of use. After joining Skoobe our members spend significantly more time reading while still buying print as well as ebooks. To split the catalogue into verticals is not planned, since we have found that having the option to read according to one’s mood is actually one of the attractions of the offer. To carry more than 13,000 ebooks in your pocket and read a biography on the way to work and a crime story at home is very much our customer’s wish. The reader is not limited to the one book she can carry in her bag but can continue to read the story she feels most drawn to at the moment.

3. How supportive are publishers and authors? Do they feel it’s a viable channel and do they have any concerns?

Publishers and authors have been very supportive, particularly since they also see the opportunity to enlarge the market both in terms of time spent reading and money spent on books. To be present in the growing smartphone market and have a discovery tool for readers to engage with their frontlist as well as their backlist has helped us as well. Skoobe serves a market which always existed in the print world but was under-served in the digital market.

Christian Damke is the CEO of Skoobe.

TOC NY 2013 — The publishing industry will gather at the Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York City, February 12-14, to explore the forces and solutions that are transforming publishing.

Save 15% on registration with the code COMM15

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