The ebook market, till now dominated by Amazon (and much less so by Barnes & Noble), has started heating up as more Big-5 publishers partner with other services to distribute ebooks. The latest publisher, Macmillan, says it will offer a thousand titles through via all-you-can-read subscription services Oyster Books and Scribd.
Subscribers of Oyster and Scribd pay a flat monthly fee to read as many ebooks as they wish, similar to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited. Macmillan's decision follows similar paths taken by Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins.
The only remaining Big-5 publishers are Hachette and Penguin Random House. A representative for Penguin Random House, the world's largest book publisher, told the Associated Press that the company is "uncommitted at present to offering our books for any subscription services."
Even Macmillan CEO John Sargeant sounded ambivalent about subscription services, saying that, although they "need broader channels to reach our readers," its lower profit margins present a "significant long-term risk" to traditional publishers.
Scribd, headquartered in San Francisco, styles itself as "a digital library, featuring an ebook and audiobook subscription service that includes New York Times Best-Sellers and classics." Scribd's monthly subscription fee is $8.99. Examples of licensed books include authors Stephen King and Janet Evanovich.
Oyster Books hails from New York and describes its business as "the leading streaming service for books." They claim to offer "everything from New York Times Best Sellers and Oprah's picks, to children's titles and more." Oyster's monthly subscription fee is $9.95. Books available include American Sniper and Wicked.
Amazon's Kindle Unlimited subscription costs $9.99 monthly. It offers books such as the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games trilogy.