Macmillan signs on with Scribd and Oyster

Macmillan signs on with Scribd and Oyster

In something I described as “shaky” in my annual prediction post for 2015:

The Year Ahead: 2015

I “predicted” that at least one Big 5 publisher would join Amazon’s subser (that’s what I call a subscription service)

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That hasn’t happened yet (we’re only about half way through the first month), but Macmillan recently joined up with two of the competitors, Scribd and Oyster.

On Scribd, Macmillan has 1,024 books at the time of writing.

That’s not every book Macmillan has to offer…it’s generally not the “frontlist”, the most recent and popular books.

Still, as pointed out in this

Publishers Weekly article by Calvin Reid

frontlist titles from major publishers are starting to show up more in subsers.

Macmillan joins HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster in offering books to be borrowed through Scribd and Oyster…that’s more than half of the Big Five, with Penguin Random House and Hachette not yet involved.

You might think that these big publishers are staying away from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited out of spite…the tradpubs (traditional publishers) and Amazon have often disputed things with each other (the publishers pretty much have always won…they settled when the Department of Justice went after them, but when it is directly publishers to Amazon, the e-tailer has lost. Text-to-speech is one example; the Agency Model itself ((which was one of the things that brought the DoJ into the mix, since it was used as a tool to raise e-book prices according to the Department)) is another).

However, that’s not how big business works, as a rule. Yes, Amazon removed the “Buy buttons” from Macmillan books when the Agency Model was being put into play. Sure, Amazon put barriers in the way of people buying Hachette books until a new deal was recently reached.

I doubt that Jeff Bezos and John Sargent of Macmillan are going to skip down the street holding hands any time soon.

Macmillan and Hachette both have books at Amazon now, after their respective unpleasantries. If Kindle Unlimited is the right business model for them, they’ll do it…holding their noses, perhaps, but doing it anyway.

I think KU is going to be come increasingly important throughout this year, and be a big point of discovery. People will buy books after borrowing them, in some cases…particularly to give them as gifts.

With more Big Five publishers signing up for subsers, I can only guess that preliminary data is indicating it is worth it. I think the publishers are just negotiating with Amazon.

Subsers have to be great for the backlist “long tail”, where publishers may not be making any money anyway. It’s important to note that even if they lost money in Kindle Unlimited because it cannibalized some sales, they might make a more than compensating amount from additional sales.

We’ll see what happens, but this development makes me a bit more optimistic about my prediction. 😉

What do you think? Will a Big 5 company sign up for KU this year? If they do, will it be just backlist, or frontlist, too? Do you use a subser? Does it seem worth it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what to think by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

4 Responses to “Macmillan signs on with Scribd and Oyster”

  1. Harold Delk Says:

    Not sure about subsers, but discovered that almost no current books from the “big five” are available for loan. I’ve a friend on a remote island who is living off the land whom I wished to loan a book to so he could save a few precious dollars… I could not loan him a book (many books actually) because the publishers did not allow their books to be lent. Maybe you could do some research to seee when some popular, but not even current books became unavailable. Similar to your not linking to books w/o TTS. I was aggravated that I could not lend a book to someone who could not otherwise afford to read it. He would never be able to afford to buy it, but might have been inspired to save money in the future to read other books by this author. He is a writer as well and his books are quite interesting and available for loan. Something must change with the publishers who only seem to be in it for the money. The authors of tomorrow must be able to read the best literature to be able to hone their craft; why do the pubs discourage them with restrictive policies?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      In terms of lending, it was quite some time before we got that at all from Amazon after Barnes & Noble had had it.

      The Big 5 (Big 6 at the time) did not participate in it from the get go. Amazon does encourage it in indies (independent publishers) who go through their Kindle Direct Publishing, by making it a condition of higher royalty rates.

      It doesn’t have to do with how old the book is, from what I’ve seen…it’s more dependent on publisher.

      Interestingly, the Harry Potter books can’t be loaned…but they can be borrowed through Kindle Unlimited (at least the one I checked).

      Have you considered adding your friend to your account (or to a Family Library)? That way, that person could have access to all of the books you’ve purchased. You wouldn’t be loaning them, you’d be sharing them…and that’s actually better access. When it’s shared, you can both read them at the same time: when it’s loaned, you can’t.

  2. Albert Yang Says:

    Bufo, if I recall correctly, the Big 5 did allow lending on some of their books on the Nook before Amazon allowed lending. Soon after Amazon started allowing lending, the Big 5 made all of their books non-lendable.

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