Two major services hoping to become 'Netflix for e-books' got a big boost Wednesday: Simon & Schuster has made its backlist available to both Oyster and Scribd.
For a monthly fee — $8.99 for Scribd, $9.95 for Oyster — each offers unlimited e-book reading on mobile devices. With the addition of 10,000 books from Simon & Schuster, Oyster, which is available as an app for Apple's iPhone and iPad, says it now offers 500,000 books. Scribd, which works on Apple and Android devices as well as Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, bills itself as "the world's largest online library."
Simon & Schuster is the second of the Big Five publishers to sign on with the services. Both launched with HarperCollins providing select titles, some independent publishers are also on board, and both include public domain books.
But just like Netflix, a title you may want might simply not be available.
Some publishers have been reluctant to provide their books to the services fearing the subscription-based lending will eat into book sales.
What will be available from Simon & Schuster: older books by Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Joseph Heller, Mary Higgins Clark, Jodi Picoult, David McCollough, Walter Isaacson, Hunter S. Thompson and Chelsea Handler.
In a statement, Simon & Schuster president and chief executive Carolyn Reidy said, “Consumers have clearly taken to subscription models for other media, and we expect that our participation in these services will encourage discovery of our books, grow the audience and expand our retail reach for our authors, and create new revenue streams under an author-friendly, advantageous business model for both author and publisher.”
The publishing industry has already figured out a business model for a similar type of project: public libraries. Libraries buy books, and readers get to borrow them for free. But finding out how to configure a workable Netflix-for-books, pay-to-read system has proved to be more complicated.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times