By now many of you are aware that Smashwords recently made a deal to put 225,000 books on Scribd, a new digital library subscription services. (If not, check out the Scribd & Smashwords Sign Global Deal link on our News & Announcements12/19/13 posting.) What may be new to you is the extend to which subscription services like Scribd and Oyster are collecting data on the reading habits of their subscribers and in turn sharing it with the authors.
According to this New York Times article by David Streitfeld, new start-ups like Scribd are “going to be pretty open about sharing this data so people can use it to publish better books” – unlike Amazon and Barnes and Noble which keep the massive amounts of data they collect proprietary. Mr. Streitfeld goes on to discuss how useful such information could be to authors and shares interesting tidbits about what is being discovered regarding a number of individual titles using these so-called “consumer analytics.” But he also raises questions about privacy and the overall sustainability of the subscription model. And of course, he can’t resist bringing Amazon into the equation by mentioning they may have ambitions of their own to set up a rival plan.
Well written and informed, this article points to some fast breaking changes that are shaking the world of book publishing. The only thing missing is an attempt to figure out where libraries fit in to all of this. Perhaps that’s a topic for another article. Regardless, this is still a fascinating piece and well worth the read!