Book Subscription Service Pulling Some Romance Titles Because People Read Too Many Of Them

Although it feels like every subscription service wants to be like Netflix, that business model is proving tough to repeat for some. That includes the book subscription program offered by Scribd, which is reportedly pulling thousands of romance titles from its platform because people are reading too many titles, too fast.

This is proving troubling for Scribd’s bottom line, reports Nieman Labs, as the service has to pay publishers every time a user reads even part of a book. In an ideal business model, Scribd readers would be like those people who pay for a gym membership, but then barely ever go.

But to the romance “gym” they care certainly going, as the CEO of self-publishing site Smashwords revealed in a letter earlier this week that Scribd sent to publishers. It reads:

We’ve grown to a point where we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to expand the overall size and variety of our service. We will be making some adjustments, particularly to romance, and as a result some previously available titles may no longer be available.

Growing up with a slew of aunts who would trade boxes full of romance novels back and forth with my mother to supply their apparently unquenchable thirst for dark corners, sweet nothings and, most often, strong female characters, I’m certainly familiar with the voracious appetite evinced by the genre’s fans. Enough is never enough — there is always another romance novel ready to be digested quickly before it’s on to the next one.

Scribd’s CEO Trip Adler addressed readers’ concerns in a blog post after the news hit the rapidly fluttering fan, saying the company is devoted to providing plenty of fodder for readers.

“We’re working hard to establish more mutually beneficial terms with our publishing partners, so that we can continue to grow our catalog,” Adler wrote, adding that “romance is here to stay. We are maintaining a robust catalog of thousands of romance titles.” Titles will be rotated in and out, he adds, “so that romance readers always have something fresh to read.”

Anyone who’s already downloaded and started reading a title won’t have to fear that the book will just disappear, either, Adler notes.

In the meantime, it’s quite possible my mom’s trunk/closet/basement/garage hidey-hole is still full of boxes upon boxes of romance novels, so I’m sure she’d be willing to share.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.