Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Romance Readers Read Too Much Romance. No Books For You!

Have you heard the latest publishing news? Scribd is removing a shitload of romance novels from their site because romance readers read too much.

Let me repeat that: Scribd is removing most of the books in its most popular genre. They're removing the books their subscribers want to read, love to read, NEED TO READ!

If you're saying "WHAAAA?" then my response to you is, yeah, this is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. I really don't have to embellish or editorialize when it comes to this story.

If you're asking "What the fuck is a Scribd?" then I'll quickly tell you it's a subscription service, like Netflix for ebooks. Until now, you could read (some) of my books there. (They don't like erotica.)

Apparently their subscribers are voracious romance readers and, because their business model sucks, readers reading books is costing them too much money. So instead of changing their payout structure or doing something sensible like that, they're removing their most popular books.

Want the inside scoop straight from the horse's mouth? Here's the email I got from Draft2Digital, which is one of the distributors I use:

As we all know, the concept of a subscription service for books is extremely new. There are several models on the market now for effectively monetizing subscriptions, and none of them exactly matches what we’re used to from traditional sales royalties. As the market experiments with different approaches, there are bound to be some missteps and false starts along the way. In fact, we should expect this business model to evolve even more in the near future.

Scribd took a significant risk putting in place a model that paid authors the same amount as a retail model for each book read by a subscriber. As we all know, romance readers tend to be incredibly avid readers. In trying to cater to this voracious readership while under this progressive payment model, Scribd has put itself in a difficult place. In a bid to better balance these operating expenses, Scribd is immediately slashing the volume of romance novels in its subscription service.

If you are receiving this email, then you are a Draft2Digital author who has published books in the romance genre to Scribd. This means that some or all of your romance novels are likely going to be delisted from their service today. (Books that are priced at free will not be removed.)

While a large number of romance novels will be removed from Scribd, it isn’t all of them. We aren’t privy to the exact guidelines Scribd is using to decide which romance novels will remain, and it’s our understanding that they remain in flux at Scribd. However, over the coming days, we will be working closely with Scribd to resolve the exact criteria and share them with you so that you’ll have the opportunity to restore all of your titles to the service.

Please Note: If you write in other genres, understand that those books will not be affected by this policy change.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and assure you that we are working with Scribd to explore alternative solutions to this challenging problem, always searching for new terms that could restore our full catalog to their service.

Believe me, this situation is just as difficult for Draft2Digital as it is for you. We also stand to lose a significant portion of our revenue due to this change. More importantly, we regret that we couldn’t give our authors more notice, but unfortunately we were informed quite late in Scribd’s decision-making process. It has been our highest priority throughout these discussions to preserve as many of your books in the service as possible, and we will continue to pursue that goal going forward.

So, like... "Oh, wow, our subscribers LOVE romance. They read a bajillion romance novels a week. So let's get rid of our romance novels."

Smooth move, Scribd.

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