WoW! Read the rest HEREScribd, the fast-growing ebook subscription service, today announced dramatic cuts to their catalog of romance and erotica titles.
Effective immediately, I (Mark Coker) estimate 80-90 percent of Smashwords romance and erotica titles will be dropped by Scribd, including nearly all of our most popular romance titles. Books priced at free are safe and will remain in their catalog.
Based on what I've been able to glean, the lower the price and the higher the word count, the better the odds the book will remain. Few books priced $3.99 and above will remain. Scribd is not publicly revealing the formulas for what stays and what goes, probably because much of this is still in flux. They're cutting all publishers and distributors with the same blunt knife.
It's ugly. The problem for Scribd is that romance readers are heavy readers, and Scribd pays publishers retailer-level margins for the books. In a letter to publishers and distributors delivered earlier today, Scribd said:Dear Publisher
As you know, in starting Scribd, we bore the majority of the risk when establishing a business model that paid publishers the same amount as the retail model for each book read by a Scribd subscriber. Now, nearly two years later, the Scribd catalog has grown from 100,000 titles to more than one million. We’re proud of the service we’ve built and we’re constantly working to expand the selection across genres to give our readers the broadest possible list of books for $8.99 per month.
We’ve grown to a point where we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to expand the overall size and variety of our service. We will be making some adjustments, particularly to romance, and as a result some previously available titles may no longer be available.
We look forward to continuing to grow subscribers, increase overall reading, and increase total publisher payouts in a way that works for everyone over the long term. We of course want to keep as many of your authors and titles on Scribd as we can, so we’d love to discuss our plans and how we can best work with you going forward.
Thank you for your business.
Bottom line, romance readers - readers we love dearly at Smashwords - are reading Scribd out of house and home. Scribd's business model, as it's set up now, simply can't sustain the high readership of romance readers. They're not facing the same problem with readers of other genres.
Never thought I would see this.
Okay, I admit I've never been a fan of Erotica. I've slammed them as pornographers and rolled my eyes when Erotic authors brag about their earnings.
I've already noted that B&N weighs the rank of Smashwords titles by about 100k points. They've done that for years now.
But I never, ever thought I was going to see this.
I don't know if Swallow The Moon and Let's Do Lunch will be affected. Both are short and under $3.99. Neither of them is going to Scribd via Smashwords. (*Which doesn't matter, D2D sent out a similar notice. The difference is they aren't looking at 90% of their catalog.)
I'm going to test the links. Yes, the books are still up.
Perhaps I will get a few more sales because of this. But I'm not going to hold my breath. This is a very, very strange thing to watch happen.
There have been rumors that the purge is aimed at the content, but I've also been told that Erotica has never been part of the subscription service. So I raise an eyebrow at Mark's assertion that the Erotica titles are going too.
Perhaps we will never know why this is happening.