The market for ebook services is starting to get more exciting as major book publishers start accepting the idea that consumers want a “Netflix for books” to satisfy their voracious reading habits.
The latest example comes from Scribd’s premium unlimited ebook service, which today added over 15,000 book titles from major book publisher Harlequin. The publisher is well known for producing romance novels as well as a mix of other titles. Scribd’s unlimited service features a library of 500,000 ebook titles from more than 900 publishers, which subscribers can access across several devices via official Scribd apps. But to gain complete access to that library of ebooks, you’ll need to pay a $9 monthly subscription fee. That price could be a huge bargain for extremely active readers who commonly purchase two or three books per month anyway.
“The subscription model is unlocking powerful changes in reading habits, and this is most prominent within the romance genre,” said Scribd cofounder and CEO Trip Adler in a statement.
Scribd’s partnership with Harlequin includes making Scribd the only place people can read individual ebook titles from the publisher through subscription. This seems like a pretty significant move because it means serious fans of romance novels will be looking to Scribd instead of Amazon if they want to check out ebook versions. Scribd stated that its exclusive agreement with Harlequin will stay in effect for a year.
It’ll be interesting to see if Scribd manages to steal enough readers away from (or divert attention from) Amazon during that year-long exclusive window for Harlequin titles. When it comes to ebook subscriptions, Scribd already has an advantage over the recently launched rival service from Amazon, which offers a large library of lesser-known titles and self-published Kindle books for $10 per month.
In addition to Amazon, Scribd also faces competition from the more evenly matched (in terms of its library of book titles) unlimited subscription from Oyster.