German Publisher Bastei Lübbe to Launch International Subscription Platform
On the heels of subscription platform launches from Disney and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, German publisher Bastei Lübbe has announced the development of its own subscription service, oolipo. The international streaming service is built from the foundation of Bastei Lübbe’s ebook store “beam,” and shares bite-sized, serial content geared toward mobile readers. The subscription service is expected to “soft” launch on April 2016 in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
Bastei Lübbe shared in a press release that its goal is to create a platform akin to Netflix or Spotify, but for reading. “It is about time that we found new and complementary forms of storytelling,” said chief product officer Ryan David Mullins in the same press release. “With oolipo, we will do exactly that: offer short, multimedia reading content at a flat rate to appeal to a global audience.” The publisher reports that the majority of oolipo content will be created for and exclusive to the platform.
Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader observes that oolipo is similar to Byliner, which offered subscription access to its short ebooks, but the platform was forced to shut down in 2014 and was later acquired by Vook (now Pronoun). Hoffelder went on to question whether Bastei Lübbe will encounter the same roadblock that Byliner did; that is, the difficulty of growing a sustainable audience that is willing to pay for content.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this story develops, and whether publishers can successfully create their own platforms for ebook reading and distribution.
Read the full press release from Bastei Lübbe below.
COLOGNE, Germnay--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The veil over the new platform from Bastei Lübbe AG (ISIN: DE000A1X3YY0) has been lifted - at least a little: the much anticipated streaming portal will be called "oolipo". "We have therefore found a globally consistent and very catchy name for our innovative new service," explains Thomas Schierack, CEO of Bastei Lübbe AG. “We have therefore found a globally consistent and very catchy name for our innovative new service”
Previously, the idea of the streaming portal was sharing the "beam" brand with the publishing group's successful e-book store. But the trademark could not be protected worldwide: "We made a virtue out of necessity and found a new, strong and internationally appealing brand name," says Schierack happily. In the future, streaming will take place under the "oolipo" brand, while "beam" will still be operated under its established name as an e-book portal.
Unlike all the previous streaming services in the field of reading, oolipo will follow an entirely novel concept. The portal will focus on short-form content in portions ideally suited to mobile reading, especially on smartphones and tablets. This is how oolipo is to reach its target group worldwide.
Bastei Lübbe AG brought Ryan David Mullins on board as one of the brains to provide ideas for the innovative product. He is now a driving force behind oolipo as CPO (Chief Product Officer). The oolipo management team is completed by Johannes Conrady, who manages operations as Chief Operating Officer, and Andrew Irvine from the investor Blue Sky Tech Ventures, who is taking the role of Chief Executive Officer until market launch.
The portal aspires to become the streaming portal for modern digital readers, like Netflix in film or Spotify in music. "It is about time that we found new and complementary forms of storytelling. With oolipo, we will do exactly that: offer short, multimedia reading content at a flat rate to appeal to a global audience," says CPO Mullins. New, mostly exclusive content and series are being conceived for this purpose.
The new streaming service will have a simultaneous "soft launch" in the USA, UK and DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) in April 2016 in two languages (German and English). oolipo will be fully available from July 2016.
About Bastei Lübbe AG
Bastei Lübbe AG is a media company in the form of a publishing house. With its headquarters in Cologne, the company has around 437 employees across the group. Bastei Lübbe publishes books, audio books, ebooks and digital products with fiction and popular science content, as well as periodical magazines in the form of novel booklets and puzzle magazines. Bastei Lübbe's business activities also include the licensing of rights and the development, production and sale of gift goods, decorative goods and merchandising articles. Bastei Lübbe has been the market leader in the growing hardcover fiction segment for many years, almost completely unchallenged, and was also number 1 in 2013 in the fiction ebooks segment. In 2013, Bastei Lübbe AG celebrated their 60th anniversary and went public. Bastei Lübbe AG shares are listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (WKN A1X3YY, ISIN DE000A1X3YY0).
Related story: Subscription Services Strike Back
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.