There is no doubt that music is leading the way. Over the course of 2014 music subscription services grew by 39% across all major global markets while for the first time the digital revenues for the music industry overtook physical ones. However film is a close second to music with Netflix set to reach 69.1million subscribers this quarter and Sky preparing to release its Netflix style SkyQ service.
Given these developments the stage is set for further evolution within the publishing sector. Although it is a year since the launch of Kindle Unlimited and revenues from e-Books are increasing, no platform has yet to define the space as the likes of Netflix and Spotify have done in the film and music markets. Even Amazon’s offering has been received sceptically. What is becoming clear is that a straight implementation of the model created in the film and music industry is not applicable to the book industry.
People read books in a different fashion to the way they consume other media and often their purchasing decisions are arrived at by a different route to that of film and music. This has to be taken into account if a compelling consumer proposition is to be created. It seems unlikely that a an everything to everyone a la Spotify will fly. Notwithstanding the well documented issues with accounting to rights holders it might be that book consumers don’t want a celestial library of all text content but rather niche propositions speaking to niche audiences and addressing clear needs. An offer for readers of war history, a social environment around romance content. A book club for young readers.
Moreover there needs to be a new deal with content owners. Publishers need to be worked with rather than negotiated out of the equation. They understand better than anyone what content works and the audiences that have to be reached to make a book successful. They can bring this insight to help create superlative subscription experiences.
What is clear is that a one size fits all service is not the solution, readers attracted to different genres and readers of different ages are going to demand different digital experiences that respond to their requirements rather than simply providing content.
Making content available in an access model is old news. What could be new and unique in publishing are services that truly address defined audience needs.