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"Netflix for Books" What Does This Mean for Authors?

"Netflix for Books" What Does This Mean for Authors?

Apr 23, 2014

Corin McDonald
Copyeditor/Proofreader

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There’s always something going on in the publishing industry. But I stumbled across a new and interesting development recently: there is now a sort of “Netflix for books” that has popped up, called oysterbooks.com. I’m not sure if this is the only one out there, but to me, this poses an interesting question: what does this mean for authors?

Well, let’s take a moment to consider it. Oysterbooks.com (the service that I encountered) boasts on their website that a subscription grants access to over two hundred thousand books. Readers who subscribe will suddenly have a massive library at their fingertips. So what does this mean? Although I can’t predict the future, I can guess at some of the effects this will have in the long run. In particular, I’d like to discuss how it will affect authors.

I actually see this as something that could be a huge benefit to many authors who are not well known, but who write good content. Why? If readers are now able to flip through books without having to buy them individually, they will be more inclined to look at books that they normally would not. Readers will probably only read the first few chapters of a book if they find it to be uninteresting, if that. This is what makes many readers hesitant to purchase a book: if they end up not liking it, they feel they have wasted time and money. But if there is no fear of having paid for a “bad” book, they will gladly try something out and simply move on if they dislike it. Because of this, I think that many authors will get much more exposure.

In addition to this, I think this will help authors increase sales overall. There are probably some concerns for authors that they may lose sales because of services such as these. And I suppose it’s true that some people may end up simply reading a book from their subscription and move on, possibly multiplied by people who end up sharing subscriptions (let’s face it, that’s going to happen) who do the same. However, readers who find new books they enjoy will often look at other works that the author has created. If they like a book enough, they might be inclined to get a hard copy. They are also more likely to follow an author they have read and enjoyed, looking for their new works. This, of course, means that authors who write well could see an increase of sales when their next book releases.

Also, since these subscriptions are in electronic format, this may help bring more people to read e-books. Although traditional printed books aren’t going anywhere (many readers enjoy having a physical book in their hands, among other reasons), e-books may become more popular among authors; if nothing else, they may to try to boost exposure through these services.
It will be worth watching to see how this will affect the publishing industry. As with any new development, only time will tell how this service will fit into the market. But I certainly think this is a development that could end up unfolding into something new and exciting for readers, authors, and publishers alike.



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