At first glance, the new offerings are a better bang for your buck that buying titles individually, said Peter Hildick-Smith, president of research firm Codex-Group. For example, a consumer might buy a print book as a gift in Amazon’s program and keep the e-book, or use an added e-book to leave a weightier tome at home. And with some new e-books still retailing above $ 10, multibook subscriptions could help readers cut their book bill.
But the new programs’ big hurdle is selection. Publishers will need to be onboard with the e-commerce sites to have their titles included in bundles or subscriptions. Even then, many titles aren’t offered as e-books, Hildick-Smith said. So, depending on their tastes, even voracious readers may find that they can’t take full advantage of the programs.
Oyster has 100,000 titles and eReatah 80,000, while Amazon’s MatchBook will start with 10,000. (For comparison, just the “Action & Adventure” niche in the fiction section of the Amazon Kindle Store comprises 57,041 titles.)
“That’s definitely a limiting factor,” said Chiang, though the sites have all said they expect the number of available titles to grow quickly.
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Consumers should also consider their reading habits before buying a subscription. “Subscriptions services assume people are going to consume book content steadily,” said Michael Norris, senior analyst for Simba Information. But most adults pick up a book intermittently, which could reduce the value of a subscription for several books a month, he said.