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Pay as You Read

7 December 2013

From Publishing a Book is an Adventure:

From print book, to digital book to buy by the word books. Is that the way the publishing market is going?

A few years ago, buying a book entailed going to the bookshop, browsing through print books, picking up the desired ones, carrying them to the cashier and paying for them.

Then came online book retailers, where books could be browsed through on-line, purchased with a clicks and then delivered home,

Then came the digital book, where browsing, purchasing and delivery all happened with clicks and usually costs significantly less than purchasing print books.

This is the current model that is growing fast. Yet, more changes might be in the pipeline, such as those now being developed by Yoav Lorch, founder and CEO of  Total Boox who says, “The current model harms the industry. People have to pay in advance for something they don’t know.”

. . . .

 Lorch is suggesting a new approach enabling the reader to only pay for what he actually read “Our application monitors reading , and the moment text appears on screen for a few seconds, we assume that the reader is reading this page at the time,” says Lorch. He adds that it is possible to thumb through a book without paying. The price is set by the publisher on the basis of the number of words actually read, and the total price is equal to the average cost of a digital book bought in the usual way.

. . . .

“We’re competing against Apple’s iBooks and Amazon’s Kindle,” says Lorch. “Amazon is the mammoth in the market, and it is trying to gradually kill publishers by worsening their terms. It increases the number of authors, stealing them from publishers. The publishers know that they to create an alternative because if they leave the readers to Amazon it will be a death sentence.”

Link to the rest at Publishing a Book is an Adventure

Ebooks, Pricing

39 Comments to “Pay as You Read”

  1. “Amazon is the mammoth in the market, and it is trying to gradually kill publishers by worsening their terms. It increases the number of authors, stealing them from publishers.”

    Did you monitor that I stopped reading at this asinine statement?

    Dan

    • “stealing authors” by letting them publish, even if you have turned them down. ESPECIALLY when you turn them down. Just moronic.

  2. Hmm! I certainly wouldn’t want to be billed for browsing through a book that turns out to be so bad or uninteresting that I cannot finish it. Chances are I’m already angry for having wasted time.

    • Considering I still buy print books which at first seem like I’d enjoy them only to discover a third or halfway through I don’t care about the characters any more, I can’t see getting upset over buying something it turns out I dislike for some reason. I’m hardly going to make return visits to a bookstore just to ensure I’ll like the whole book. That would be stealing.

      Then again, I consider paying full price for a book whether or not I read the whole thing as a good thing. I have no problem doing so. Especially since I don’t trust trad publishers to be honest about how much they’re paying their authors. This system seems ripe for abuse by traditional publishers, and they’re already dishonorable enough.

  3. “The publishers know that they [need] to create an alternative because if they leave the readers to Amazon it will be a death sentence.” Death sentence for the publishers, but only publishers don’t see that.

  4. The idea of paying as you read seems interesting. Not that is new, but applied to e-books has some merit. It can be argued that readers can read as much as 20% of a book for free on Amazon, so what’s the difference? The difference would be No Returns. You pay for what you read.

    • Actually, I expect there would be more returns. Many many more returns.

      (Unless I’m reading you wrong.)

      With free sampling, people read 20 percent and if they don’t like it, they don’t buy it. No returns, no problem.

      If they had to pay for reading 20 percent? They’d want their money back every time. Because if they don’t read more than 20 percent, they didn’t like the book.

      There is zero advantage to the customer for this. (And that’s why Amazon is king and the publishing industry is having problems.)

      • What I meant to say, the first 20% is free, reading the rest is for pay and you don’t get a return for what you read. If you read 50% of the book you pay 30% of the price. If you finish the book the whole thing is yours for full price. Or you pay only 70% and don’t get to keep the book just as if you borrowed it. Of course there are more variables to be thought out, and it depends if the readers will want such scheme and if someone will promote it. You realize we’re speculating. ;)

  5. I didn’t know I was being stolen from publisher. I thought the publishers were ignoring me.

    Silly little writer me. Sigh.

    • Remember how publishers use the possessive when speaking of authors? In trad-Pub circles authors are property. Considering all the gotcha clauses in modern trad-Pub contracts, they might even be right. ;)

    • I’ll never forget the day I was snatched from the nurturing arms of Big Publishing and spirited away to the dark and dreary salt mines of Amazon. Oh, wait…that never happened.

  6. I hate it when people read my books and return them, but this is a bad idea on so many levels. And the reasoning, that the current model harms the industry because “People have to pay in advance for something they don’t know” is so nonsensical, I don’t know where to start.

    People pay for most things in advance. You don’t buy a bag of chocolates after you’ve eaten them. According to Lorch, there should be a tracking device in every wrapper, and if someone unwraps a candy, you can presume they’re eating it. Ping on the credit card–that’ll be five cents, please.

    If publishers think they’re not selling because people don’t want to pay for books they don’t know, forcing them to commit to paying piecemeal before they can even thumb through the pages will not help.

  7. The publishers know that they to create an alternative because if they leave the readers to Amazon it will be a death sentence.

    Death sentence to the publishers who don’t give a fig (or any other F word) about the writers. Bring on the typing monkeys!

  8. Is it just me, or do the articles and ideas coming out from the big publishing houses and their supporters becoming sillier by each day that’s passing by?

  9. Okay, I need more cold meds before this makes sense. Back to bed.

  10. It increases the number of authors, stealing them from publishers.

    A telling remark. You steal property. To them, an author is property, much like the three-hole punch I once stole from our company’s loss prevention director.

    Nobody is stealing authors. The authors are making choices because they suddenly found they had options.

    But that’s not the sort of thing you can say in front of the masses. You’ll never get readers riled up against Amazon by complaining that they provide options.

    And so, we get these increasingly oblique flights of fancy.

  11. Ashe Elton Parker

    To clarify my previous comment:

    Music companies create compilation records/CDs with songs from multiple artists (for instance, a Christmas album). According to an article I read several years ago (no longer have access to it), music companies don’t always pay the artists on such records/CDs royalties on the music they put on them.

    I can see trad publishers doing something similar with this system. Not paying royalties on a partially-read book. Because it was only *partially* read and it’s “difficult” to determine royalties on such a thing.

  12. What a terrible idea. I could see this coming up in a discussion after a few too many adult beverages, how did this look good to anyone in the cold light of day?

    • a few too many adult beverages

      You see, this right here is why I don’t trust the publishing industry. I don’t drink adults and prefer not to do business with people who do. Why, I’m not even sure a vampire that drinks adults is any better than one that drinks children.

      (No wonder publishers worry about other people ‘stealing’ authors. We’re nothing more than adult beverage containers to them.)

  13. Sounds like trad-pub whining to me. “They are stealing authors!” Never mind that a good number of self-pub authors were never interested in trad-pub in the first place.

    “Amazon will the the death of us!” because they can’t find a way to compete. Capitalism is all well and good until the show is on the other foot.

    Comments like “Amazon is the mammoth in the market, and it is trying to gradually kill publishers by worsening their terms. It increases the number of authors, stealing them from publishers.” Just makes them sound like stomping toddlers because someone put up new equipment on the playground and now no one wants to play with them.

    • I sometimes wonder how a business can survive that thinks of its biggest customer as a competitor (with or without regard to the fact Amazon may compete with tradpubs, it does sell a large portion of their product). But then I realize, this is the same business whose retail outlets employs clerks who deliberately sabotage the sales of some of their most popular product on the basis that it’s politically incorrect. And — guess what — many of those outlets are NOT surviving. So… maybe my perspective is on too short a time scale.

      M

  14. Well, it’s good they are thinking outside the box. I always want to acknowledge innovation, which is what Publishing needs.

    However, in practice, I don’t see this being workable. First, if the problem is authors being lured away from Publishers, this solution does not even remotely address that. In fact, it could make it worse; I doubt many best-selling authors would find this appealing.

    It does try to address another problem – how to lure readers from Amazon – but I don’t think it would work.

    This idea is just too negative. How would you market it? “We realize you hate most books, so we’ll only charge you if you actually read the whole thing?” I just don’t see it. And to compete with Amazon you need A LOT of things, not just a cost-saving tactic. You have to be able to compete on SELECTION, and I think that would be extremely difficult for anyone to do right now.

    It’s worth coming up with new ideas. I’d go back to the drawing board with this one though.

    • Replying to myself. :)

      The other problem with this idea is the privacy issue. Not all readers would be comfortable with the idea of being monitored like that.

      I think this would appeal to a very small set of readers – those who don’t read much and only want their money’s worth. Voracious readers would not save much, and would probably not find this interesting.

  15. “Pay as you read”. Yeah… no. Any company that implements this idiocy may as well not exist for me because I’ll never consume their content or give them my money.

    “Sounds like trad-pub whining to me. “They are stealing authors!” Never mind that a good number of self-pub authors were never interested in trad-pub in the first place.”

    Exactly this. I have absolutely zero interest in following the traditional publisher route for my work. As far as I can see they bring nothing to the table, and between the “author” or “publisher” only one is an expendable intermediary.

  16. Publishers were fighting over me so hard and then out of nowhere Amazon just swooped in and snatched me up.

    Bad, Amazon, bad!! Shame on you.

    [/sarcasm]

  17. Amazon is … trying to gradually kill publishers by worsening their terms. It increases the number of authors, stealing them from publishers.

    In comparison to the stunning ignorance on exhibit here, Kanye now sounds like a literary genius.

    Oh, and the business model Lorch proposes is equally silly. Any reader could tell him that it’s a total non-starter. Imagine sitting down at a restaurant that charges for each bite. Or trying to enjoy a piece of music while paying by the second. Um… no.

    • Or trying to enjoy a piece of music while paying by the second.

      I’ve done that, and I didn’t even get to pick the music. It’s called ‘being put on hold on a cell phone with roaming charges’. This is a viable business model, but only if you’re the government and can punish people for hanging up.

    • Imagine sitting down at a restaurant that charges for each bite.

      Sushi.

  18. This seems like another solution in search of a problem.

  19. A more interesting experiment would be a book delivery system that allows readers to consume the entire book at no charge and then presents them with an opportunity to pay whatever amount they want to.
    “If you enjoyed this book, please pay the author an amount you feel he/she deserves. $5.00 is suggested as a minimum to support this author and keep him/her writing. Thanks for reading!” Kind of like the Humble Bundle.
    The reason I think this might work for novels is that it eliminates all barriers to draw readers in, and springs the payment transaction on them at the precise moment when they are (hopefully) most emotionally invested in the novel. Remember the moment when you finished your absolute favorite book in the world? How much would you have paid in that moment, out of sheer gratitude, while drying your tears and frantically searching online for the sequel?

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