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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Just What Is The Netflix of Books?

Oyster offers more than 100,000 books in an
all-you-can-eat subscription model.
Of all the media substrates, the book and publishing industries have been notoriously slower to react, adapt and change. And this has proven true in the acceptance of the so called 'all you can eat' subscription models.

For one small monthly subscription fee one can gain instant access to huge libraries of hundreds of thousands of books.

What determines the ultimate success of these programs is the quality and quantity of books offered --- and this is built upon the quality of publishers (both big and smaller houses) that offer their books in these subscription models.

So, just how do publishers get paid under these business models? How do the writers/content providers get paid? What is the advantage to readers?     

A key excerpt from tonight's research source: 

"But the fundamental benefit for publishers is that by creating this fundamentally better reading experience, we can grow the pie for the industry. That means getting people to read more books, bringing in new audiences, and if we're able to do that, it's ultimately a win for us as a company."

So, essentially, if you start with satisfying the readers (the end users of your product) first, you will invent a sustainable model that makes money and is a win win for all players.

The following interview with Eric Stromberg, CEO of Oyster (among the first to offer the subscription model for books) will answer the questions raised above.

This interview is conducted by Daniel Terdiman, a senior writer for CNET:     

How the 'Netflix of books' won over the publishing industry (Q&A)

Oyster has grown its library of books available to its all-you-can-eat subscribers to more than 100,000 titles. CEO Eric Stromberg told CNET how it happened, and how the company is changing the world of reading

The world in which people have to rent movies one at a time from a video store, or buy individual songs from iTunes has come and gone. These days, Netflix, Spotify, Rdio, and other services are making it easier and easier for people to subscribe to all-you-can-eat plans.
As slow and painful as it has been to get the media giants on board, they've come around. But not in every industry. Take the book publishing industry, for example, which has been even slower than its counterparts to move into a subscription system.
Still, even the book publishers are now finally coming around. Over the last few months, a number of services have launched that offer monthly subscription plans, and access to tens upon tens of thousands of books in return for a monthly fee. Even better, they are on board with making those titles available across multiple devices (essentially any running Apple's iOS 7), finally seeing that there's a way to make money, even while providing customers with the access they actually want.
Among the first to offer this type of system for books is Oyster, a New York-based startup founded by Eric Stromberg and two co-founders. For $10 a month, the service offers unlimited access to more than 100,000 titles, books that can be read across a number of devices, and at the reader's pleasure.
This is no fly-by-night operation. Already, it has signed up big-name publishers like HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and others. And those companies are, in turn, providing some of their biggest titles. That's why Oyster has been called the "Netflix for books."
CNET recently caught up with Stromberg, both by e-mail and by phone, and asked him about Oyster's origins, its goals, and how it will conquer the world of putting books in readers' hands. The following is a lightly edited transcript.
Q: Where did the idea for Oyster come from? 
Eric Stromberg: Growing up, I was a big reader. I grew up in a household where I'd come home from school everyday, and my dad would ask what I was reading, both in school and for enjoyment. Like a lot of people, I was focusing mainly on required reading, but after college I fell back in love with reading for enjoyment. So in 2012, the idea for this came along in a late-night conversation with Chris Dixon, one of my mentors, and I was really excited to combine my passion for books with what I'd worked on for most of my career in technology.
Also, I was inspired by other forms of all-access models, like Spotify, and Netflix, and how they really fundamentally changed people's consumption habits, where you pay once and never have to think about it again. So that inspired me, and my two other co-founders.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Break from the Publishing Business to Publishing an Emotion

For those who may not know - I lost my wife, Yonsuk, to a horrible neurological condition five months ago. Although devastated at the time (totally destroyed was more like it), I am better today. I always believed/accepted she went to a better place - but, today I came across an old prayer printed on the back of a picture of Jesus that fell out of an old daily planner book of mine.

It goes like this:


I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
 Oh, so happy and so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty
  In this everlasting light.

All the pain and grief is over,
  Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
  Safely home in Heaven at last.

Did you wonder I so calmly
  Trod the valley of the shade?
Oh! but Jesus' love illuminated
  Every dark and fearful glade.

And He came Himself to meet me
  In that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus' arm to lean on,
  Could I have one doubt or dread?

Then you must not grieve so sorely,
  For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth's shadows,
  Pray to trust our Father's Will.

There is work still waiting for you,
  So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth -
  You shall rest in Jesus' land.

When that work is all completed,
  He will gently call you Home;
Oh! the rapture of that meeting,
  Oh! the joy to see you come!

- Priests of  the Sacred Heart Monastery

I truly needed this prayer at this time - I believe Yonsuk is speaking directly to me.