Did This Prediction Miss the Mark?

Scribd, Enrich, Oyster, Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Over the past few years the number of ebook subscription services has grown. Many in the industry have claimed that ebook subscription services would eventually be the biggest player in the sales and consumption of ebooks.


Predictions abound in the publishing industry. Industry professionals are constantly looking at new trends to stay abreast of where the industry is headed so they don’t get left behind. Sometimes the predictions are correct. Sometimes they are not.

Early predictions on ebooks stated that by 2016, ebook sales would surpass print book sales. Two-thirds of the way through 2015, it is clear that this prediction will not be fulfilled. eBook sales growth stalled in 2013 and has remained constant at about 30% of book sales since. So, the prediction that ebook sales will overtake print book sales has now been shifted to the year 2018.

eBook predictions are not the only one the industry has gotten wrong. Now it appears that the early predictions for ebook subscription services may also be off. This summer Entitle, an ebook subscription service, shuttered its doors. This was just shortly after the company launched a special Christian book subscription choice for Christian book readers. Then just week or so ago, Oyster, a big contender in the ebook subscription service circle, announced that, after two years of operation, it too is shutting down operations.

Google has purchased Oyster. However, the company has not yet announced what it will do with it. This Internet giant is known for buying startup ventures and turning them into Google businesses. However, it is yet unknown whether Google will turn Oyster into a Google ebook subscription service.

With the closing of Enrich and Oyster, only two ebook subscription services are left: Scribd and Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Both have drawbacks for independent authors and small publishers. To have books listed with Scribd, an ebook must be distributed through Smashwords, BookBaby, or Draft2Digital. To have books available in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription service, the ebook must be exclusively offered via Amazon.

Maybe subscription book services may not become as large a part of book sales as originally predicted. Or, maybe the industry is shaking out. Much like Netflix and Amazon are the two biggest providers of streaming of movies, maybe Scribd and Amazon will be the two big providers of ebook subscription services.

Either way, subscription book services still have a place in the book publishing and selling world. Subscription services provide a good way for authors to become “discovered”. Research shows that readers are more likely to read a free or cheap book by an author they are unfamiliar with. However, if after reading the book, they like the story or content, they will often purchase and read other books by that author.

Have you had success with being “discovered” via an ebook subscription service? If so, share your experience with me.

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Prediction for eBooks

The other day I was talking with a gentleman who told me that after he got a tablet, he quit reading print books altogether. He asked me if I read digital books. I told him that I still had a strong preference for print books and that is mostly what I read. He then told me that his wife reads about half print and half digital.

This gentleman shared that one of the things he liked the most about digital reading was the ease of purchase. If someone told him about a book, he could pull out his tablet and immediately buy the book.

Interestingly, the three of us (this gentleman, his wife, and myself) made up the profile of book readers. Print is still by and large the most popular way people read. However, the number of hybrid readers (those reading both print and digital) and digital-only readers is growing.

The big question that keeps being asked is: “When will ebooks surpass print books?”

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) recently published its annual “Entertainment & Media Outlook.” In this report, PwC predicted that the U.S. ebook market will surpass the printed book market in 2017.

ebook prediction

PwC also predicts that overall revenue from book sales will stay below the 2008 sales level. This stagnation of revenue is not because people are reading less, but mostly because the average selling price for ebooks is lower than for printed books.

What do you think? Do you agree with this prediction?

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