Simon Dunlop

Ellen Harvey is the associate/digital editor of Book Business and Publishing Executive.

Simon Dunlop is the CEO of ebook subscription service Bookmate.

Although some have hailed Oyster's decision to launch an ebook store allowing users to purchase titles à-la-carte, there is reason to meet this decision with some skepticism. Previously a subscription-only service, similar to Bookmate and Scribd, Oyster has launched its new ebook store in conjunction with new deal announcements with Penguin Random House and Hachette, publishers that have famously resisted making their titles made available through subscription services. With this latest move, Oyster has effectively blinked first -- bowing to the pressures of major publishers -- arguably weakening the position of ebook subscription services.

The latest EU ruling which excludes ebooks from reduced VAT rates follows a long battle between the European Commission and two EU member states: France and Luxembourg. As it stands, paper books continue to qualify for reduced tax rates while their electronic counterparts are now subject to full VAT. This price increase for ebooks isn't just a blow to ebook publishers but a blow to the publishing industry as a whole.

Bookmate, an ebook subscription platform serving emerging digital markets including Russia, Ukraine, and Singapore, announced yesterday that it is expanding its library of English language content. The service signed deals with six ebook aggregators -- Ingram, ePubDirect, Diversion Books, Head of Zeus, Legend Press, and Casemate -- to grow its English language collection to over 200,000 titles. This complements the several thousand English language books HarperCollins added to Bookmate last year.

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