Archive for the ‘Subscription Services’ Category

[Update, 11 November 2015] Royal Dutch Library offering a ’subscription service‘, backed by a national budget

Montag, September 14th, 2015
Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Source: Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Uploaded by OlafJanssen, via

The National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB) is obviously aiming to set up a country-wide ’subscription service‘ for Dutch ebooks via The ebooks can be read on ebook readers, laptop’s/pc’s, tablets or smartphones.

According to the plans of the KB, national library users can subscribe to a ‘digital only’ national public library membership and will be provided access to – currently – about 10,000 ebooks from Dutch publishers, independently of their membership of the local city library — which caused some confusion among publishers and local libraries, who „owned“ the users so far. The service, announced by the KB, has been rescheduled, but is nonetheless about to start in 2016.

Currently, the KB seems to be negotiating a national license fee with the publishers for their service. A „substantial number“ of titles is supposed to be part of the base subscription. For new front list titles, a so-called „pluspakket“ (additional plan) shall be introduced, for which users will have to pay extra.

„The KB is in charge to come up with a suggestion for a license fee, which is being discussed with external stakeholders such as local libraries, publishers and the Dutch association of public libraries (VOB). The negotiated fee will then be proposed to the ministry (of Education, Culture and Sciences) for a final decision.“ (Quote KB, via, my (free) translation, S.P.)

Details on the possible deal are missing.

In my recognition, this is the first time, a national library is offering a paid ebook subscription service for national users, backed up by a national budget for a license agreement with the publishers ( already offers audiobooks (LuisterBieb) and selected commercial ebooks (VakantieBieb, Eboek Eregallerij) for some years to anyone downloading their free apps, without the need for a library membership.)

I doubt that this move by the KB would have been possible without a general political support and a hefty multi million budget (although, I am not an expert in the Dutch publishing market and cultural politics). But as seen from the outside, in the context of a) Amazon, about to launch their Kindle service in the Netherlands, and b) Scribd, not being able to come up with a sustainable business model for their service, this news sheds a new light on 1. the future of subscription services (like Mofibo and Bliyoo in the Netherlands), 2. the future of library aggregators (offering aggregation of content and lending service applications for public libraries), and 3. the future development of services, which are offered by the national libraries, directly.

Via (via Google Cache).
Many thanks to Huub van de Pol, Twitter: @huwie!


Update, 22 September 2015:

After the shutdown of Oyster, „the Netflix for books“, the questions I have raised above have become even more relevant. Oyster has been backed up with $17 million of venture capital, but this was obviously not enough money (time) to come up with a sustainable business model and convince publishers to participate and offer content through the service. The strategy to get such a significant number of users that would make publishers accept ‚reasonable‘ terms (i.e. reasonable for the service; which could as well have been a strategy for publishers, that might eventually have to deal with KU, alone), did not work out – for Oyster. 

The solution might be as proposed by the Dutch National Library: Back- and midlist availability, publicly funded, through services offered by public or national libraries; frontlist availability, patron driven and paid by users through ‚additional plans‘. 


Update, 11 November 2015:

The Royal Dutch Library (KB) in Den Hague has announced a price tag for their library ebook subscription service: For 42 EUR (45 USD) per year you will be able to read (available) ebooks, which is supposed to be „close to the costs for commercial subscription services“. Via (Google Translate)


Germany’s first ebook subscription service has launched

Montag, März 5th, 2012

This week, Germany’s first ebook subscription service has been launched. It’s called Skoobe ( and it might have the potential to turn the ebook business from right to left.

Some months ago, Skoobe launched an app for iOS devices, that provides reading samples of current bestsellers from more than 70 publishers (among them publishing houses like Droemer, DVA, Fischer, Goldmann, Heyne, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Lübbe, Luchterhand and Rowohlt). That already raised speculations in the German market that were confirmed on Wednesday. From now on, via the same app users are able to access the full text of a couple of thousand ebooks for a monthly subscription rate of 9,99 EUR.

Skoobe is designed as a „virtual library“. This means, that users can browse the whole assortment and borrow all ebooks as long and as often as they want. Only the number of ebooks that can be borrowed at the same time as well as the number of new ebooks per month are limited. Five ebooks at the same time are available on the user’s bookshelf, when „returning“ one, another title can be borrowed. The first 10.000 users of the app are able to access an unlimited number of new titles, from March 2013 the offer will be limited to two new titles per month! The app allows for offline reading for a period of 30 days. Every ebooks is available to every user all the same time. So, there is no „waiting list“ for popular ebooks, which might even make Skoobe a competitor to lending services of public libraries in the German market.

Skoobe is available in the Appstore for all users based in the EU or Switzerland. But currently, there are only German language titles available! An Android version is to be launched, soon.

But above all specifications and features for users – the app is superprofessionally designed and runs very smoothly -, there is another remarkable thing to mention about the company: Skoobe is a joint venture of the two German major trade publishing companies Verlagsgruppe Random House and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck plus arvato – arvato Publishers Services. This means, that Skoobe will be backed up with loads of trade content right from the start! And, it’s open to other publishers as well, due to which Skoobe is able to offer ebooks also from one of the most innovative trade publishers in the German ebook market, Bastei Lübbe. Which will probably attract even more publishers!

Skoobe is the publishers’ reaction to readers demand for popular ebook content going hand in hand with state-of-the-art reading services. Consequently Skoobe’s CEO Christian Damke explains: „In developing Skoobe, we have tried to understand the special needs of ebook readers better […]. In collaboration with our readers, we will continuously improve Skoobe to provide the best reading experience on smartphones and tablets.”

Publishers, certainly the big trade publishers, might have been underrated in their ability to apply to a radically changing market. They obviously realized, that changes in the digital market will happen; the trend towards subscription based services rather than stand-alone download is just one of them. And it’s a good sign for publishing that the publishers themselves embrace it with a rather courageous step like the launch of Skoobe. In any case, it must be considered a clever strategic move of Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck to offer this kind of service now, and in this particular constellation as a joint force.

(Dieser Artikel erschien am 5. März 2012 auf – a Digital Blog From Europe in Association With The Bookseller.)