Now you can subscribe to eBooks

The popularity of the Kindle and tablets like the iPad have driven eBook sales in recent years. Their beautiful screens, light weight and anywhere, anytime store interfaces have convinced readers from around the world that digital books can be just as nice to read as the traditional paper version.

As an author, it’s been great. When I first released We, The Watched online, most people didn’t have eReaders and the best I could expect was for people to read my novel in their web browsers or–maybe, if they had the ink to spare–download the PDF and print it out. Now, with eReaders widespread and my self-published book available on all of the major eBook stores, I have a much wider potential audience than when I began.

Of course, the essential problem with self-publishing remains: how to convince people to give my book a try when I have only a limited marketing budget. Why take a chance spending money on my book when you haven’t heard of it and there’s plenty of other books out there that your friends have been talking about?

It’s a good point. Sure, I could spend all day telling you how great my book is, but why would you take my word for it? I’m no LeVar Burton.

This is why I am so excited about a new wave in eBook publishing: subscriptions!

Following the model of Netflix and Spotify, new sites are popping up promising readers unlimited reading for a small monthly subscription price. These include Oyster and a revamped reading service from Scribd.

Oyster charges $9.95 per month for unlimited reading through an app for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Scribd charges $8.99 for unlimited reading through its own app for those Apple devices plus Android phones and tablets. Both have promotions offering the first month for free.

The Oyster app running on an iPad Mini. Credit: Oyster
The Oyster app running on an iPad Mini. Credit: Oyster

While I’m not sure I read enough books to make this worth it for me personally, I know a lot of people who do. And the ability to discover new books without any risk is pretty cool.

As an author, I am excited. Thanks to some great deals worked out by Smashwords (one of my eBook distributors) We, The Watched is now available on Oyster and will soon be released on Scribd.

This means that readers can try my novel–and read it to the end–and not pay a penny more than the subscription price they would have paid anyway. And I even get about the same royalty as I would have from a traditional sale.

It’s an exciting concept, and I am hoping it is the beginning of a trend. Perhaps in the future, we will see the bigger eBook stores try similar price models. It is certainly a great development for authors and one that will make an even better business case for going self-published.

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