Why You Should Put Your Books On Subscription Services

book subscription services

The way readers consume and discover new books is rapidly changing, which is why you should consider making your work available by putting your books on subscription services.

Earlier this year, Walmart (the world’s largest retailer) announced it would start selling eBooks through its own co-branded app and Google released a new in-home way for readers to listen to audiobooks. Meanwhile, brick and mortar stores, like battleships going to rust, continue their slow and hulking demise.

And now you can add another development to the forces warping the publishing world: the industry-wide adoption of subscription-based reading services which allow customers the chance to read as many books as they’d like for a minimal monthly fee.

Publishers, tech giants, and service companies are all racing to become the Netflix of eBooks.

For independent authors, hosting books on subscription services has become a necessary part of the publishing process. Not doing so would be equivalent to siloing your new TV series on basic cable, or releasing your debut album solely on vinyl. Here’s why.

Subscription services make it easier to expand your audience

One of the chief benefits of subscription services is they allow readers to “try before they buy,” sampling new authors before committing to a purchase. That kind of freedom used to be impossible, since readers only had a thin selection of digital preview pages to decide whether or not to purchase a book. As a result, readers took fewer chances on authors they were less familiar with.

But readers are far more likely to investigate new authors ,  and try out new genres and writing styles, if it doesn’t cost them anything extra. For authors who lack the marketing resources of traditional publishing houses, subscription platforms serve as a great way to introduce your work to new audiences.

In this sense, subscription platforms aren’t just vehicles of distribution: they are channels of discovery.

The big players in the industry are now moving to this model

As an independent author, you need to realize these streaming services are not a flash-in-the-pan solution for selling more books.

With major companies in the self-publishing industry moving to subscription models, self-published authors will do themselves a disservice by not taking advantage of every tool at their disposal.

Amazon allows authors participating in the Kindle Direct Publishing program the chance to house their books on Kindle Unlimited at no additional cost. Hoopla, a company that partners with local libraries, allows writers to make their books available to any reader across the country who has a library card. And Scribd, a company claiming to be “the Netflix for books,” has over 1,000,000 subscribers.

Combined, these companies reach millions of readers every day,  many of whom are actively looking for new authors telling new stories. BookBaby offers all three of these options to our customers. If you’re not making it easy for subscribers to discover your work, you’re leaving thousands of potential fans behind.

Authors with books available on subscription services make more money

If nothing else, subscription services provide authors with additional revenue streams. Similar to how musicians on Spotify are paid according to the number of times their songs are streamed, authors with books available on subscription platforms are paid according to the number of pages read. That means readers don’t need to purchase your entire book for you to make money. If they only read 25 pages of your novel, you still get paid for that.

But the real benefit to publishing on a subscription-based platform is the opportunity to have new readers stumble upon your work. As a member of that platform’s community, readers are more likely to give your work a chance. And if they become fans of one of your books, chances are they will read others in your catalog, which means more reads, and ultimately more money in your pocket.

At the end of the day, you’re not losing anything by publishing your book on a subscription platform like Kindle Unlimited. But by not doing so, you’re certainly missing out. Think of housing your books on subscription services as a marketing tool.

The great debate over the past decade has been whether the publishing industry is dying. But innovations like subscription models prove that the art of writing and publishing books isn’t dying at all — it’s evolving.


BookBaby Book Marketing and Promotion


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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.


    • Hello ‘Rudy’!
      First – congrats on the published books! That’s quite an achievement.
      When you publish through BookBaby we place your eBooks on sites like Scribd and Hoopla for no additional charge beyond our basic eBook publishing fees.
      The royalties are based upon page views. The more a reader consumes..the more the author gets paid!
      And best of all – BookBaby doesn’t take a cut of your net sales. We pass 100% back to you, the hard-working authors who did all the heavy lifting!
      Hope that helps.

  1. Everything I have read recently indicates that brick and mortar stores, especially small and specialized ones, are continuing to prosper. Thanks for this tip, anyway!

    • Hello Mary,
      You’re absolutely right – brick and mortar book stores will never go completely away. And indie stores are indeed thriving – over 2,200 now in the US, up about 200 stores in the last few years.
      The challenge for self published authors, of course, is getting considered for shelf placement in those stores. It’s a challenge to be sure.
      My advice: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Distribute eBooks. Create Printed Books. Go for Print On Demand distribution.

  2. Hello Joseph,
    It’s really easy. Distribution to these sites is part of our standard eBook service. When you publish through BookBaby we place your eBooks on sites like Scribd and Hoopla for no additional charge beyond our basic eBook publishing fees.

  3. Five of us have contributed stories for an anthology which has been self-published on Lulu in both hard copy and as an eBook. We need more exposure. How do we get started with your subscription service? What up front costs are involved? Can we cancel at any time without a fee?

  4. I already have 3 titles published on KDP. At this time I’m already set up with the Kindle Select. To use your service would I cancel the Kindle Select on my KDP dashboard and go through yours? Unclear how to submit a title to you for distribution. I don’t need the editor and other features that was shown in the “Get Quote”

  5. With absolute respect. This model is almost identical to the same package espoused by Spotify and its ilk to musicians. Result; our incomes have been slashed to the bone. I’ve no doubt that you’re correct. This is the future of (anything that can be digitized) – and people will make money. Those who own the infrastructure – while the creative elements chase cents.

  6. You are losing something if you publish on Kindle Unlimited – and that is that you can’t publish that particular title anywhere else.


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