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Will we ever see a “Spotify for ebooks”?

Join us for a free webcast on April 26 to discuss the subscription model

My music buying habits have definitely changed over the years. I’m doing a lot more streaming now and rarely buying individual tracks or albums. I use Spotify but I also started using Rdio. I’m still in the free trial period for the latter and not sure which, if either, I’ll end up paying for.

One question that seems to keep popping up in the ebook publishing world is, “when will a Spotify for ebooks emerge?” You could argue that a few services already offer unlimited access to free ebook content. Those services are, of course, limited in their breadth. You won’t find any offering all the latest bestsellers, for example, but Spotify and other streaming music services let you listen to plenty of hits.

You could also say that Amazon already has something like this with their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program (KOLL). This service lets Amazon Prime members borrow from hundreds of thousands of ebooks with no due dates. And it’s all included in the $79 annual Prime membership fee, so it’s almost like a free program, assuming you joined Prime for other reasons.

I’m not convinced KOLL is the answer though. It’s basically a throw-in, or an afterthought, to the Prime membership program. And while 300K+ titles is huge, I don’t believe the successful “Spotify for ebooks” will focus on breadth of content; I think it will be more about narrow focus and depth of content.

I don’t have much interest in an all-you-can-read ebook subscription model with a million titles, especially if it doesn’t have the depth I prefer. I’ll pay more for vertical subscriptions that offer me more depth. Sports and history are two of my favorite topics. Rather than paying $15/month for a broad catalog with limited depth in those two areas, I’d prefer to pay $10/month each, or $20/month total, for two separate vertical subscriptions with more titles that are likely to match my interests.

This is the type of discussion we’ll have at our free webcast on Friday, April 26 at 1PM ET. The webcast is called Why the Ebook Subscription Model Might Be Right for Your Content and features Safari CEO Andrew Savikas. Be sure to register now as slots are filling up quickly. Also, attendees will be able to ask questions during the webcast but if you’ve got any you’d like me to put on the top of the list for Andrew please email them to me.

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