In The Future Of The Book Is The Stream, Megan Garber outlines about a new initiative from audiobooks.com to sell a monthly subscription service rather than sell books by the title. She writes:
“The service has the potential to reframe book-buying as a transactional thing, making it less about purchasing an object, and more about purchasing an experience.”
It’s an interesting proposition, and if taken to its logical conclusion, as Garber tracks here, could potentially revolutionize the book-selling business. But one thing she doesn’t get into: what this means for the content providers themselves. What does a monthly subscription service mean for the authors and writers trying to make a living through their craft? If we move to a world where we no longer pay for things because we actually want to read/watch/hear them and more because we have the ability to read/watch/hear them, what does this mean for the content that will become available to us?
In a world of shared value and collaborative consumption, it’s likely that our attitudes towards “owning” books will evolve rapidly. Yet while I now read digital books almost exclusively, there’s still something to be said for having permanent access to those digital files, lost if a subscription lapses. And, while the shift that subscription brings to content ownership might encourage people to read more widely and freely, I also wonder about the other implications on our resulting relationships with that content. Interesting to ponder.
[“Books About Books” image by jm3 on Flickr.]