It’s not just music that is shifting to a subscription model: “Big Five” publisher Macmillan is getting in on the game, announcing today that it will make a selection of titles available via e-book subscription services Oyster and Scribd.
The deal, effective immediately, covers roughly 1,000 titles from Macmillan’s backlist, including works by George R. R. Martin, Kate Atkinson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Slavoj Žižek, Elizabeth Bear, Orson Scott Card, Mario Vargas Llosa, and others. Although newer works aren’t included with the deal, it still represents a treasure trove for the two subscription services, both of which offer unlimited reading in exchange for a monthly fee ($9.95 Oyster, $8.99 for Scribd).
Macmillan follows publishers HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster into the e-book subscription market, while Hachette and Penguin Random House remain holdouts.
In a letter addressed to authors, illustrators, and agents last month, Macmillan CEO John Sargent wrote that, “Many of you know that we have long been opposed to subscription. We have always worried that it will erode the perceived value of your books. Though this significant long-term risk remains, we have decided to test subscription in the coming weeks.”
“Our job has always been to provide you with the broadest possible distribution,” he continued, “and given the current financial and strategic incentives being offered, we believe the time is right to try this test.”
We’ll be following the results with interest.