The Rise of the Subscription Libraries?

I’ve noticed an interesting change in my sales pattern this month, modest as it is in general. While my Amazon sales seem to have tailed off after a relatively strong start this month, I’ve noticed I’m making more on my Smashwords’ account, more specifically on people reading my books on Oyster in particular and also Scribd.

These are both new subscription libraries to which Smashwords has recently started shipping ebooks. I’m wondering too if the dip in sales at Amazon is because people are beginning only to choose among books in the Kindle Library at Amazon rather than paying out above their subscription price? Seems a reasonable proposition.

Does this tally with the pattern you have noticed, either as a reader or a writer?

Meanwhile, my books are all available to readers with a subscription to Oyster ( which doesn’t seem to have an author’s page as such so you need to hunt down individual titles by name) and Scribd.


3 thoughts on “The Rise of the Subscription Libraries?

  1. As a reader, I like the idea of subscription in the sense that I’m not paying so much money to read bad books (because a vast majority of the books I end up buying are mediocre or less – I keep them archived in Calibre and appropriately tagged so I remember not to buy them again) but I also hate the idea of subscription because I want to own the books I really like.

    (In terms of a wider view, I like Typekit for its accessibility and loathe it for the fact that I never really own the fonts I’m using – likewise, an awful lot of graphic designers don’t like CS Creative Cloud – Adobe Creative Suite – because we’re literally paying a monthly fee to rent, not own, the program. It seems that the media world is moving right away from the notion that we own anything we use/engage with, in point of fact. Given that we interact with an awful lot of media online that we don’t own a physical or a digital copy of but simply access, this is probably a natural movement, but it’s one that challenges what we take for granted about media – and it’s not without its issues.)

    Since I’m not much doing the pay-me-money-for-my-words in a conventional sense thing (the buying of my books), I don’t expect it’s going to bother me all that much.

  2. Yes, true, buying books outright is always something of a gamble and you can resent paying out on something you didn’t enjoy, subscription takes away some of that risk as long as their selection is good enough that you find enough books worth reading per month.

    Interesting point about how we have less ownership of media we use – I hadn’t thought of it from that angle, though with ebooks there is the unnerving fact that Amazon and others can track how much you’ve read of a book purchased from them and have the technological power to delete the book from your ereader…

    I don’t use much in the way of high-tech software, but I usually find free versions online of anything I want – presumably nothing that fits your design needs – I wouldn’t like the idea of having to pay a monthly rent for something.

    Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    • Right now it’s a bit of a moot point because I can’t really afford book-buying or a subscription. My opinions might change if I ever have more money to devote to reading! But I’ve bought, in the past, far more books that turned out to be mediocre or bad than books that turned out to be awesome, so it might be worth my while to buy things twice! I am quite picky, though…

      That ‘power to delete’ thing is why I download all my books direct to my computer and archive everything on Calibre. I don’t use Amazon’s direct-to-device process at all. Yes, this makes me old-school in terms of using a USB cable, and I can’t sync between devices, but I’ve got control over all my data. Most of my books came direct from the publishers, anyway, so I’m happier using Calibre to manage my books. Only a few things came from Amazon.

      I know I read comics, blogs and all sorts of things online that I don’t actually own in any sense. I stream music more than I buy it…

      I’m still using CS6 – which I bought on a DVD before Adobe brought out CC and don’t pay rental fees for – and don’t plan to upgrade for that reason. There are free alternatives to a lot of things, especially Photoshop, but it’s kind of the same reason everyone uses MS Office – both it and InDesign are industry standard. It’s the program I learnt in school, and a program I really enjoy, but I don’t love the idea of renting a program (it works out to be far more expensive than a one-off fee unless you upgrade every couple of years, and given these are <em<thousand dollar programs… yeah).

      No worries. It’s quite an interesting subject, isn’t it?

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