As I’ve said before many times, Apple and Amazon are not friends to subscription publishers. They either don’t understand the subscription publishing model, or, understanding it, they want to undermine it.
The problem is that subscription publishing relies on a relationship between the publisher and the subscriber. It’s not a one and done thing like buying a book.
Apple and Amazon insist that the subscriber is their customer, and that simply doesn’t work for the publisher. The problem is not the 30 percent remit! It’s the subscriber information.
What subscription publishers need is a platform on which to post their digital content where they can retain the relationship with the subscriber. It’s really a simple thing, but apparently nobody wants to do it.
Evernote would be a good model. Evernote has a great platform for viewing content online. All they would need to do is add a “my subscriptions” area, where the subscriber could add the login information for all his publications. Evernote would authenticate the subscriber with the publisher’s API, and the publisher would provide the content through a feed.
Simple. Elegant. Perfect.
But Evernote won’t do it because it would spoil their relationship with Darth Vader (aka Apple).
It’s a shame, because this Evernote concept solves a couple real problems.
First, it gets publishers out of the software business — where they do not belong. Publishers are in the content business. They can’t be worrying about tweaking their technology every time somebody comes out with a new phone or tablet, or changes their OS.
Second, the reader doesn’t have to download a different app for each of his publications. He simply has a place where he keeps all the stuff he wants to read. (In this example, Evernote.) And … there it is. Easy.
Third, it helps Evernote because all the publishers would be promoting them, and their software would become the default reader software.
Still … nobody’s doing it. Oh well.
But today I read that Facebook is courting publishers.
There’s no reason why Facebook couldn’t take on the role that I outline above for Evernote. Facebook could become the reader’s interface.
This would be even better than my Evernote model because publishers could allow readers to share content (with certain limits, I’m sure) which would help the publisher extend his audience. It would help Facebook because they could charge some nominal fee for the service they’re providing to the publishers.
Imagine logging into Facebook not only to see what cats are up to these days, but to find out what Sports Illustrated says about the Redskins, what Brew Your Own says about Belgian Strong Ales, and what Knight Kiplinger says about investing.
People would never get their faces out of their phones.