The competition for e-book subscription-based services is getting tougher.

Scribd announced it is offering its own service for e-books on Tuesday. The service will cost $8.99 a month for an unlimited amount of books and will have many HarperCollins among its publishers its library.

Scribd is a six-year-old company that provided a place where can share documents. It already had the technology for use of e-books, and now it took it one step further.

“We want to be one of the most publisher-friendly companies out there,” Scribd cofounder and CEO Trip Adler told GigaOM. “It’s core to our strategy to build this for publishers just as much as readers … and at the end of the day, having the Big 5′s support” is crucial.

Adler also told GigaOM both book subscription revenue and subscriber numbers have grown by 60 percent each month since January when the service had a soft launch.

HarperCollins has offered is books to other service such as Oyster and eReatah, but GigaOM had a chance to also speak with an official from HarperCollins as to why it is offering a large amount of its catalog to Scribd.

Both Adler and HarperCollins’ chief digital officer, Chantal Restivo-Alessi, stressed the same factors to me: Oyster is still in beta, while Scribd is a six-year-old company. Scribd has apps for web, iOS, Android and Kindle Fire, and books sync across platforms, while Oyster is only available on iPhone for now. And Scribd has an established user base. Adler told me the company has 80 million unique monthly visitors and 40 million free documents uploaded to its library. And, with “tens of millions in revenue” per year, the company is profitable.

But how do authors get paid? That’s what the writers want to know. The terms are still vague – as in it hasn’t been announced yet.

HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray told Publishers Lunch:

“We have negotiated very hard, to the point where if the whole business went this way, we and our authors would be very pleased, because the economics are more favorable…[it’s] the exact opposite of the music industry’s subscriptions models. The revenues that go to our authors are up, somewhat significantly.”

We would love to hear from an author whose books have been placed on subscription-based services and hear their story.


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