It is with great joy that we discuss the demise of Oyster’s subscription eBook service, one akin to Netflix but for books. Though I am saddened that their departure means one less competitor in the book market – I hold no tears for the defeat of a buffet book service. The book industry cannot be sustained if consumers heavily buy into such a program.
Many consumers did not buy into it, through that doesn’t mean they gave up on the idea. Scribd, Amazon Kindle Unlimited, and a few others offer the price-fixed monthly all-you-can-read deal. Here’s the question: why did Oyster fail?
· Did not enough people know about it?
· Was their selection of books weak?
· Do people favor a competitor?
Or do consumers simply not care for such a service? Or, maybe Oyster had a lot of customers and realized it can’t afford to pay royalties to cover all of these book rentals?
Oyster charged $9.95 per month and made over one million e-books available to be read anytime, anywhere. Was $9.95 too much? Has the market completely collapsed that people won’t even part with 10 bucks to read a ton of books?
I’ve written this many times over but I will say it again:
· Books have value – they aren’t commodities.
· Books should be sold individually and not limped into a monthly fee.
· Book prices for e-books should be similar to hat of print.
· All book prices must rise over time.
· Book giveaways help brand specific authors but hurt the industry overall.
Oyster tried something new and presented competition for Amazon, the beast of the industry. It failed and now we need to celebrate and hope that consumers continue to reject the all-you-can-eat steals. We need to go back to seeing books as being important treasures that should be paid for, so the publishing industry – publishers, authors, retailers, editors – can make a decent living and afford to publish quality books.
A recent study showed writer income is down and that the average writer would live below the Federal Poverty Level if he or she depended solely on book income.
Oyster reportedly failed due to not having the best book selection. Even though it had so many titles available, it didn’t have the big best sellers or all of the new titles. It thought it could package a bunch of titles and bowl people over with quantity. However, quality counts.
It remains to be seen where the Oyster model heads in the publishing industry but score a victory for the authors and publishers with the end of one retailer’s attempt to diminish and devalue the craft of producing books.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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