Twelve days ago I sent this e-mail to Scribd. I have yet to receive a reply.
I love economics and reading and wanted to share a great idea with you.
Why not give subscribers the option to divvy up their $8.99/month among their favorite titles? Let's say that I finished reading a book and really loved it. Underneath the title on your website would be some coin buttons... 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents and 50 cents. I could click whichever coin buttons I wanted as many times as I wanted in order to specifically and accurately communicate my enjoyment to the author. The money that I allocated would be automatically deducted from my $8.99/month. You would take your cut and pass the rest onto the publisher.
Under each book you would display the total amount of money that has been allocated to it. Ideally, you would also display each user who allocated money to the book and sort them by the amount that they allocated. I could click on their usernames and see the titles that they've allocated money to sorted from most valued to least valued. When subscribers search for books... the default sorting would be by total value.
On your homepage you would display your most valuable titles. Right now you can't do that because you don't know the actual value of your titles. You might now how popular they are... but just because something is popular really doesn't mean that it's valuable. You really want to know which titles are worth people's allocations. Readers will want to know the same thing.
Ideally, most subscribers would allocate all their money half-way through the month. If this wasn't the case... then it would be readily apparent that you needed to increase your selection of valuable books. However, the guess work would be largely removed because your subscribers would be using their allocations to tell you the type of books that they most valued.
If most subscribers did allocate all their money half-way through the month... then voila! You could increase the subscription fee and most subscribers really wouldn't mind. As the size of the pie increased... so too would the incentive for more publishers and authors to try and get a slice.
Of course you would want to super quickly add music and movies as well. And articles. Pretty soon people would be happily paying more than $100 dollars a month and enjoying the opportunity to communicate their valuation of your content. Once valuing content is as easy as "liking" it... then people will be happy to do so. You'd also want to allow subscribers to befriend, follow and message each other. By the time Facebook, Spotify, Netflix and Amazon realized how successful this model was... it would be too late. Well... maybe not too late. But they would definitely be scrambling to catch up.
Obstacles? Challenges? Technically you'd be keeping track of a lot more information. But it would only be a lot of information if lots of subscribers were happy with the option to communicate their valuation/enjoyment of your content.
Anyways, I'm not sharing this idea altruistically! I'll definitely be expected to be fairly and reasonably compensated. However, my motivation isn't purely financial. It's also ideological. When you definitively prove that this model is viable... then it would really strengthen the case for taxpayers choosing where their taxes go. Same concept just on a larger scale.
I've already shared the book idea on my blog...
But I doubt that Jeff Bezos reads my blog. I'm super sure that it's a viable model though and it's only a matter of time before other people realize the same thing.
Let me know if you folks are interested in this model. Of course I'd be happy to answer any questions and help assist in any way with its implementation.
While I'm at it... I signed up to your website. The first thing that I saw after entering my name, password and e-mail was a page asking for my credit card details. For me it was a total turn off. Maybe I'm an exception though? I would think that it makes more sense to first get people hooked and then ask for their credit card details. When people are on the fence about your service... you really want to avoid doing anything that might push them on the wrong side.