How the ‘Netflix of books’ won over the publishing industry (Q&A)


Oyster has grown its library of books available to its all-you-can-eat subscribers to more than 100,000 titles. CEO Eric Stromberg told CNET how it happened, and how the company is changing the world of reading.

by Daniel Terdiman

January 25, 2014

Oyster offers more than 100,000 books in an all-you-can-eat subscription model.

(Credit: Oyster)

The world in which people have to rent movies one at a time from a video store, or buy individual songs from iTunes has come and gone. These days, Netflix, Spotify, Rdio, and other services are making it easier and easier for people to subscribe to all-you-can-eat plans.

As slow and painful as it has been to get the media giants on board, they’ve come around. But not in every industry. Take the book publishing industry, for example, which has been even slower than its counterparts to move into a subscription system.

Still, even the book publishers are now finally coming around. Over the last few months, a number of services have launched that offer monthly subscription plans, and access to tens upon tens of thousands of books in return for a monthly fee. Even better, they are on board with making those titles available across multiple devices (essentially any running Apple’s iOS 7), finally seeing that there’s a way to make money, even while providing customers with the access they actually want. (more…)




BY David Zax
December 2013

Is a “Netflix for e-books” nearing viability? Yesterday, Smashwords, the largest distributor of self-published e-books, announced a new deal with Scribd, the document-sharing platform that has reinvented itself as an e-reading service,including an $8.99 all-you-can-read plan. “They’re trying to do for e-books what Spotify does for music and Netflix does for films,” Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords, told Fast Company.

The Smashwords deal greatly expands Scribd’s service, making over 200,000 titles available; it also makes these titles available for individual purchase through Scribd’s platform (for readers who still prefer a la carte pricing). A competitor called Oyster is trying something similar at a similar price point; Coker has a deal with them, too.

But is the all-you-can-read model really viable in the long term? How will such a service alter the publishing landscape? And who reads books anymore anyway, when there are so many great GIF listicles competing for our attention? We caught up with Coker–who last crossed our radar as defender of erotica against a squeamish PayPal–to explore these and other questions. (more…)


| 12.03.2013

Today’s consumers face a growing array of devices and ways to connect with content–giving them the option to connect anytime, anywhere—and marketers are scrambling to capture their attention. But in their mad dash to engage consumers, marketers have had a constant companion as new products have been brought to market: radio.

According to Nielsen’s Q3 Cross-Platform report, radio continues to play a huge role in the lives of U.S. consumers, especially as we commute back and forth from work as part of our daily routine.

The average American radio listener tunes in to AM/FM radio for over two hours per day, according to recent analysis determining when consumers are engaging with different mediums. Interestingly, audio consumption reaches a plateau in the morning hours, peaks around noon and then stays fairly constant through the day before tapering off as people start their evenings and morph into television viewers. Between the morning and early evening hours, roughly two-thirds of audio listening comes from out-of-home tuning.

Overall, more than 90 percent of Americans listen to radio each week, and those numbers are highest with African Americans (92%) and Hispanics (94%). Additionally, the report noted that people who listen to a lot of traditional radio also spend time with online radio, especially among the millennial generation.

The hyper local nature of audio offers advertisers community-level engagement between content and in-store activity. Often timely, radio spots can catch listeners right before they make their purchase decisions, and an impactful radio spot can inform and influence these decisions. (more…)

The rise and fall of YouTube’s celebrity pioneers



Creator Space Google

For the past eight years has been quietly watching a community die. Almost a decade ago YouTube hosted a small group of content creators and consumers with a desire to communicate and experiment with the future of modern media. The “vloggers” of “YouTubia” provided a new and erratic video-sharing website with an initial purpose it didn’t know it had and an audience it didn’t know it could acquire. Along the way those involved saw their share of successes, failures, celebrities, scandals, fights, friendships, deaths and love affairs — but as the years passed, an inexorable autophagy took hold, destroying everything that gave life to a community that was responsible for begetting the YouTube we know today.

There’s so much power in being a video blogger because you’re believable and you’re authentic and when you say something, it matters

Paul Robinett, AKA Renetto

Thus spoke Renetto
Paul Robinett — one of YouTube’s first celebrities — began his YouTube career posting videos as “Renetto“, a bizarre and sometimes grotesque character he created to amuse his business partner at the time. Within days Paul was featured on the front page, having amassed hundreds of thousands of views. A later success was his “Diet Coke and Mentos” video, currently standing at 14 million views, in which he suggested he was seriously injured by ingesting large amounts of Coke and Mentos (an American sweet). Although these videos amused Paul, he soon realised he was wasting the potential to turn this platform into something more constructive, so he retired his Renetto character and began engaging with his audience. This, he tells me, was life changing.

“There’s so much power in being a video blogger because you’re believable and you’re authentic and when you say something, it matters. At its height, it was even more fun than I can explain. When I first started getting my comments and views coming in, I was shaking. It was like winning the lottery.”

Paul was not only hooked, he was convinced he was part of a new medium that would change the face of media, “It was like the whole world at our fingertips. We couldn’t even believe we were doing it. We knew that we were sitting on the platform and pushing the buttons and getting to be at the beginning stages of the future of media, not just social media, but media.” (more…)

TV Is Dying, And Here Are The Stats That Prove It

Business Insider

Jim Edwards
NOV. 24, 2013,

Death of TV Gif

The TV business is having its worst year ever.

Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.

Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, “The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever.” All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal — but it includes internet subscribers, too.

Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn’t.

In all, about 5 million people ended their cable and broadband subs between the beginning of 2010 and the end of this year.

People are unplugging.

Time Warner Cable, for instance, lost 306,000 TV subscribers in Q3, and 24,000 broadband web subscribers, too.
And Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter Communications, told Wall Street analysts he was “surprised” that 1.3 million of his 5.5 million customers don’t want TV — just broadband internet. “Our broadband-only growth has been greater than I thought it would be,” he said.

The following charts show the evidence that cable TV is dying, and that people are also unplugging from broadband internet service. (more…)

YouTube Overtakes Facebook As Most Popular Site Among Teens

Clyde Smith
on 11/07/2013

Facebook may be a giant but an increasing range of data points shows it slipping among teens. The most recent news came from a teen survey by Piper Jaffray asking teens about their favorite sites. Last year Facebook was no. 1 and this year YouTube takes top honors. Facebook may still have the most teens on its network but its central status is slowly shifting towards what some might assume is an inevitable death by a thousand

As teens have grown increasingly fond of messaging and media sharing apps like Snapchat, alternative social networks like and established powers Twitterand Tumblr, many have wondered when we’d see an effect on Facebook.

In late October, in their quarterly report, Facebook admitted to a “quarter-over-quarter decline in daily usage by younger teenagers.” Then a survey by Piper Jaffray showed Twitter to be the most “important” social network among teens with Instagram tying Facebook.

YouTube Passes Facebook As Most Popular Site Among Teens

Now The Futures Company is reporting findings from a teen survey relating to favorite websites, not just social networks, that reveal YouTube to have overtaken Facebook as the most popular site among teens:

image from“Fifty percent of teens surveyed cited YouTube as their favorite site versus 45.2% for Facebook.” (more…)

What Is the Future of Television?

By Scott Jones
Oct 31, 2013

Internet-based innovation has upended everything, and more change is coming. Where do you place your bets?

Once upon a time, the entertainment industry had discreet business segments that rarely overlapped. If you wanted to see a movie (and this week’s newsreel), you went to the corner cinema. If you wanted to watch television (on one of just three national networks), you sat in front of the big box and watched what the networks said you could, when they said you could. If you wanted to hear the latest music, you turned on the radio.

Cable and subsequently the Internet turned everything on its head. Now you get around 700 channels via your cable box. New music can be found all over the Internet in far greater variety than what the record companies produced in the retail days. And you can watch a movie on your smartphone.

Whether you are a business owner ensconced in the film or TV industry, an entrepreneur looking for the opportunities that flow from disruption of those industries, or a consumer enjoying the evolution of entertainment, change is coming–and quickly.

So where do you place your bets? It’s getting to be a bit like the Wild West with few rules, lots of shootouts, conquests, compromises, persistence, much merging, and some sheriffs trying to keep an eye on things. (more…)

Is YouTube Completely Changing Network/Creator Relations? (Update)

Matthew Manarino / Oct 30, 2013

From the start, YouTube has been a Wild West when it came to rights management. Creators made money from cover songs, and the labels that owned the originals didn’t make a dime. Things became all the more complicated when multi-channel networks (MCN) came into the equation. Creators were still monetizing cover songs without permission from labels while networks were turning a blind eye to it. They were able to do so because modern fair usage laws are unclear and cover songs often fall into a legal grey zone.

Then everything came to a head when MCN Fullscreen was sued by the National Music Publishers Association. The NMPA accused Fullscreen of exactly the aforementioned issue. The MCN was making truck-loads of cash from creators who were in turn monetizing cover songs. The lawsuit flipped a switch for many networks who ignored or refused to acknowledge the legal murkiness. It also put YouTube into action. (more…)

Facebook Confirms Drop In Teen Use, Valuation Falls $18 Billion

October 2013

As we reported last week, teens are not as enamored with Facebook as they once were. In fact, Facebook has lost its crown to Twitter as the most popular social network for American teenagers, according to Piper Jaffray’s biannual survey among thousands of U.S. teens. On yesterday’s earnings call, Facebook confirmed the slide.

image from“We did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens,” CFO David Ebersman said during the call.  Despite strong mobile ad growth, the admission of teen slippage, spooked investors. The stock slid from $57.10 to as low as $47.40.  As Venture Beat pointed our, Ebersman’s 12 words cost Facebook $18 billion of valuation.

Given the numbers shown in the Statista chart below, Facebook’s decision to acquire Instagram appears smart in retrospect, as the photo sharing platform is proving very popular with a younger audience.

image from

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‘Winking at Hispanic’: Where Does TV’s New Fusion Channel Fit?

Ad Age Media

ABC and Univision’s Brainchild Will Quickly Face Competitors on Multiple Fronts

Jeanine Poggi
October 28, 2013

There are few parts of the media business growing as quickly as Hispanic media, which would seem to make Fusion, the cable news channel for millennials that begins transmitting tonight, a sure thing for co-founders Univision and Walt Disney Co. But as competitors add their own new channels variously focused on Hispanics, young people and news, where will Fusion fit?


ABC and Univision’s morning shows touted Fusion on Monday

The motivation to the network is clear: Hispanic media spending is growing faster than the general market, increasing 11% to $7.9 billion in 2012, according to Ad Age’s Hispanic Fact Pack. TV accounts for most of that spending, at $5.8 billion, but just $246 million goes to Hispanic cable TV networks.

Fusion seeks to change that ratio by targeting millennial Hispanics with hard news, news satire, sports and commentary in English. The vision for the channel has changed since it was first announced, moreover, to primarily go after young viewers with a nod to Hispanics, not an overwhelming focus.

“We are winking at Hispanic, it is not overtly Hispanic,” said Catherine Sullivan, senior VP-ABC News Sales.

“If you are not Hispanic, you won’t feel like the network isn’t for me,” she added. (more…)