Here Come the Buffet Readers

7 November 2013 iStock_000028197484XSmall photog jxfzsy texted story image

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: Here Come the Buffet Readers

[dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]W[/dropcap]hen talk of ebook subscription services surfaced in months past, there was much hand-wringing in the publishing community that such services would devalue books and harm publishers and authors.

Two of the hands doing the wringing were mine. They still are.

Mark Coker

But this is Mark Coker, founder, CEO, and “Chief Author Advocate,” as his bio says, at Smashwords, the self-publishing platform. Coker has written an extensive, two-part essay at the Smashwords blog, hinged on the topic of the newly launched book subscription services.

The lines above are from the first section of his two parter. Examining the Business Model of Ebook Subscription Services, Parts 1 and 2—the second has its own headline, How Ebook Subscription Services May Redefine the Value of Books—are the lengthiest treatments of the subject I’ve seen. As such, they’re very welcome.

He goes on:

Yet as the launches of Oyster and Scribd indicate, some (but not all) of those skeptics were silenced once they learned the publisher-friendly nature of the compensation models.  Several small publishers and one Big 5 publisher – HarperCollins – signed on to work with both Scribd and Oyster.  Smashwords announced an agreement with Oyster last month. We’re now in the process of shipping over 200,000 ebooks to them as I write.

As a hand-wringer here, I’m one of the “but not all” skeptics Coker mentions, unpersuaded, and how good that he’s careful to note that we’re not all mollified. For me it’s not the compensation issue, actually. I’m more concerned about how literature of all genres (don’t get sidetracked here, I mean all books) fare on the buffet.

Read the full article at


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