seeing from customers. The
latest Bitkom study shows
that more than a quarter of all
readers in Germany are reading digitally, and more than
16% are interested in e-book
How is the business model
working for Skoobe?
Our business model is sound
and sustainable. The catalogue is growing, and all partners who have signed
with us since the start are still on board.
Publishers are growing their title base
constantly and are establishing strategies
on how best to use the potential of subscription services. Skoobe is proving to
be a great opportunity to market titles,
especially from the backlist, and new authors alongside bestsellers and new releases. As the overall quality of the catalogue is very high, customers are eager to
discover new authors and genres. Some
80% of our customers rate the quality of
our book catalogue with “very good” and
more than 80% have recommended
books that they have read through the
service to others.
Are there any interesting data points
on reading habits from Skoobe that
you can share?
Definitely. We are seeing that customers
How do you respond to
are changing the way they read. Three-
quarters of the books that users read
within Skoobe are books that they say
they would not have been likely to pur-
chase. On average, our users spend 50
minutes each day in the app. Approxi-
mately 25% buy books that they have
discovered and read on Skoobe afterwards
as physical books, or even as e-books.
These are strong indicators that Skoobe
is indeed extending the book market. We
also see that readers really explore the
Skoobe catalogue before settling on a
book. On average they open six books
before they start reading.
Skoobe also seems to impact
the overall general media us-
age of customers. Users re-
port that they watch less TV
and use computers and play
video games less.
critics who say subscrip-
tion e-books can’t work?
Subscription services definitely work if
they are based on a sustainable business
model. A sustainable model is one where
all parties involved benefit—customers,
authors, publishers, and the services
themselves. But we are also convinced
that subscription models are a key element to tackle the challenges facing
books and reading in the digital media
age. There is a great risk that reading
books will lose relevance compared to
other digital media usage. Young users
are constantly spending time reading
digitally on smartphones and tablets.
However, they are focusing on apps, social media, or text messages. We need to
make sure that reading books stays a priority in young users’ minds, especially on
the devices that they use most. Plus,
when one decides on a media subscription service, there should be the option
to choose books over movies, music, and
others. So readers—and publishers—
need services like Skoobe.
What’s next for Skoobe?
We just launched a new book list feature
in our app, which will help customers to
discover new books more easily, and we
are very happy about the initial positive
feedback. We’ll definitely continue to
work on making access to our content
catalogue easier. Furthermore, we are
working on launching some exciting new
partnerships in the near future—so stay
tuned for more news from Skoobe.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY ■ OCTOBER 19, 2015
Subscription E-books Are Working in Germany
E-book subscription services have been the subject of intense inter- est in North American publishing, especially with the failure of Oyster
last month and the growing pains of rival
service Scribd over the summer. But, before either of those services existed, there
was the German upstart Skoobe.
Launched in 2012, Skoobe is going
strong and company CEO Constance
Landsberg offers an international take on
What made you think a subscription
service was a good idea to pursue in
We were definitely pioneers. Our founders were evaluating new business models
that could cater to new audiences and
expand the overall book market, and, at
that time, subscription services had already started to establish themselves in
other media markets. That was a promising perspective, and today we know that
it was an important step forward. On
digital devices such as smartphones and
tablets, many products and services are
competing for the time and attention of
users. We wanted to raise the chances for
books against apps, social media, games,
music, film, and more. Today there are
subscription services available in many
markets all over the world, and they are
gaining more and more relevance for
readers and publishers.
Can you tell us about your growth?
In Germany, publishers continue to show
high interest in our model. We started
out with 10,000 e-books and now offer
more than 140,000 e-books, not only in
German, but also in eight other languages. Our catalogue has been growing extensively, especially over the last year.
Since last year’s [Frankfurt] fair, we have
added 80,000 titles from more than
1,600 publishers. And we are very happy
with the positive response that we are