From Publishing Perspectives:
‘Without cannibalizing the traditional print industry’ I‘d like to bring the tired, usual subscription conversation to a new, constructive level,” says Nathan Hull.
“The debate around subscription isn’t answerable with a simple, binary ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The answer should concern ‘where’, ‘when’ ‘which business model’ – or maybe ‘which format’.”
. . . .
Hull, Chief Business Officer with Copenhagen-based subscription Mofibo, is moderating a panel titled “Why Subscription Works Outside the US Market” in Wednesday’s sessions of the International Digital Book Forum’s (IDPF) 2016 conference.
. . . .
“While the publishing world’s US subscription players (Oyster, Scribd, and Kindle Unlimited) remain everyone’s favourite punching bags — and as Spotify vs. Apple Music vs. Tidal splinters the user experience in the music world — ebook subscription services across Europe such as Mofibo (Scandinavia), Nubico (Spain), Skoobe (Germany) have to navigate unnecessarily complicated waters, constantly justifying their own positions and dodging the looming tar brush that “subscriptions are bad news” — all because of the actions of others.”
. . . .
“While US services such as Oyster and Scribd seemingly die or struggle and Kindle Unlimited still looms spectre-like over the industries shoulder, European services are thriving. Whether it be Mofibo in Northern Europe, Legimi in Eastern Europe, 24 Symbols in Spain, Skoobe in Germany or the plethora of other examples from across the continent, the arguments in favour of ‘subscription model’ are manifold. Surely, judgements on international markets shouldn’t be made based on the ill-fortunes, perceived or genuine, of US services.
It seems that country-by-country — perhaps, with the exception of the UK — new, young retailers have been able to thrive in their individual nations and generate significant new income streams for authors without cannibalizing the traditional print industry. It would appear they have harnessed an appetite to read by finding new readers via technologies and partnerships in a manner in which the publishers haven’t managed.”
. . . .
“All this highlights to me,” Hull says, “is the lack of research and international knowledge that’s out there. Or it is laziness? Or naïveté? While the print publishing world is apparently in a positive financial state, I would argue strongly, that subscription models – if you look outside the US – are are generating a similarly positive position.”
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives
It’s interesting to PG how often book industry analysis tries to ignore Amazon’s influence. This article focuses on everyone but Amazon’s ebook and audiobook subscription service (although KU is mentioned as looming “spectre-like over the industries [sic] shoulder.”
Amazon hasn’t, at least to PG’s knowledge, released the number of Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Every several months, an unwise impulse overcomes PG and he opens up Excel.
The impulse struck today and PG decided to take a shot at estimating how many KU subscribers Amazon had in March, 2016. This exercise begins with some hard data, then moves through a bunch of guesses to an unreliable conclusion.
- We know (a) the per page payout for KU authors and (b) the total payout for March, 2016. PG copied and pasted those numbers into his spreadsheet.
- From this, we can calculate the total number of KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) pages read by KU subscribers.
- To the best of PG’s knowledge, Amazon has not released any information about the number of KENPC pages in an average Kindle ebook.
- Online discussions about how KENPC pages correlate to printed pages in a trade paperback, mass market, etc., edition show a broad range of results. For some authors, a KENPC page is almost the same as a CreateSpace page. For others, a KENPC page is half as long as a CreateSpace page (so the ebook contains twice as many pages as the CreateSpace book).
- PG picked an adjustment factor of .8 out of the blue. For purposes of this exercise, he assumed that a KENPC page would be equivalent to .8 of a page in CreateSpace book. The result of this adjustment is a printed-page equivalent number of pages.
- PG assumed that the average KU ebook would be the equivalent length of a 300 page trade paperback (feel free to do your own calculation with different numbers).
- Based on these assumptions, if a typical KU member read two books during March, 2016, Amazon would have 4,156,206 KU subscribers. If the average KU member read four books, the number would be 2,078,103 subscribers.
- Note that this calculation is based solely on self-published books by indie authors included in KU (because Amazon announces the per page payout and the total payout number every month). Classics that are out of copyright and some traditionally-published books, e.g. Harry Potter, are also included in KU and the indie payout presumably doesn’t include these books.
Aside from the relatively high probability of PG screwing up his Excel spreadsheet, his guess about the number of KU subscribers is based on several other guesses, so don’t take this very seriously.
|Per Page Payout – March 2016||$ 0.00478||per Amazon|
|Total Payout||$ 14,900,000||per Amazon|
|KENPC Pages Read||3,117,154,812||calculated|
|KENPC to Printed Page Adjustment||0.8||guess|
|Printed Page Equivalent||2,493,723,849||calculation/guess|
|300 Print Pages per book||8,312,413||Books read in March||calculation/guess|
|Books Read Per KU Member in March||2||4,156,206||Subscribers||calculation/guess|
|Books Read Per KU Member in March||4||2,078,103||Subscribers||calculation/guess|