Total Boox Reinvents Ebook Distribution with an All-Access, Pay-As-You-Read Model
Total Boox is an ebook distributor that charges readers by how much they read rather than upfront pricing or subscription fees. Ebooks are free to download and costs incur incrementally as those books are read. Below founder Yoav Lorch explains how Total Boox's pay-as-you-read model is intended to meet the digital age expectations of ease and immediacy.
What is Total Boox?
Total Boox has built a new ebook distribution channel, based on an innovative reading-centric model. Our system monitors what people read, and charges them only for the portions they actually read.
For example, if you'll read 5% of the book (from any part of the book), you'll be charged 5% of the price. Moreover, you'll own that 5%. So it is not merely a pay-as-you-read model, but an own-as-you-read one. You gradually own a larger portion of the book, and if you read the whole book you have paid the full price and you own it as if you purchased it upfront.
How are you innovative?
The common business model used in ebooks today "buy first, read later" follows closely the model of the printed book. Thus the huge advantages offered by the digital age -- infinite supply, immediacy, and endless availability -- do not reach the readers of ebooks. The Total Boox platform is digital native. We provide total freedom to download books and build a rich personal library, while asking users to pay only for value received.
For publishers and authors our channel eliminates barriers and enables them to find more readers and new readers for their books. Back listed titles or books from unknown authors today have a very hard time jumping over the purchase hurdle. With Total Boox this hurdle is gone, and all get an equal seat at the table, while getting paid for every page read.
Most of our commercial activities currently concentrate on the public library market. With Total Boox librarians do not have to buy books upfront and try and guess what their patrons will read. Our full collection is always available to all patrons, for instant downloading and reading, with no limitations, no one-user-one-copy, no holds, and no expirations.
Total Boox also provides libraries with deep insight on the interests and reading activities of their patrons, without mitigating patrons' privacy. This insight is new and extremely valuable to libraries.
What inspired you to launch Total Boox?
I wanted to try and create a reverse-ebook, where the book does not reveal its text until you are physically in a location where the book wants you to be, and doing something the book wants you to do. So I started looking at the ebook space when it dawned on me how flawed and uninviting that space is. Instead of bringing the content close to the user, there are all these limitations that stand between the book and the prospective reader. All these limitations are derived from an outdated business model -- essential for hundreds of years, but unnecessary and counter-productive today.
Who is your competition?
Our main competition is the major sellers of ebooks, be it Amazon, B&N, Apple, or others. Although some of these are large and successful, they still demand full payment regardless if you read the book or don't.
With the new subscription services, e.g. Oyster, Scribd etc., users pay a monthly fee if they read or don't, yet gain no lasting asset. The moment users stop paying, their libraries evaporate. With Total Boox their books never disappear from their devices, and books read and paid for can be read over and over with no extra cost.
In the library sphere, which is our main focus at the moment, there are traditional providers of ebooks, who flood the system with a myraid of limitations: one-copy-one-user, limited number of books on device, holds, expirations, tokens, etc. Total Boox removes all these barriers, and creates a large, flat, well-illuminated playing field, where all ebooks are always available to all patrons, with no expirations, no limitations, and no questions asked.
There are over 26,000 ebooks on our system, all from well-known publishers like Workman, Sourcebooks, O'Reilly, Elsevier, Other Press and others. We hope to expand that library and the publishers we work with.
We are also working with libraries in NY, MD, CT and TX, and are planning to gradually conquer the world.