Would you read pay-as-you-go books?


First aired on Day 6 (9/6/13)

Have you ever bought a book that you ended up not reading? Or getting to chapter four or five and realizing you hate it? That's just money down the drain, right? Well, Total Boox, a new e-book company, is trying to change that with pay-as-you-go reading model: you only pay for the parts of the book you actually read.

"The concept is very simple, and it is very easy to understand," Total Boox founder Yoav Lorch explained to Day 6 host Brent Bambury. Total Boox tracks your reading progress and "if you read 10 per cent of the book, you pay 10 per cent of the price and you own this 10 per cent of the book." But, if you read the entire book, "you pay the whole price of the book, then you own this book, just as if you bought it up front."

Lorah believes this model will appeal to readers for two reasons. First, it takes pressure off readers when it comes to making book-buying decisions. Second, he believes that "the user will appreciate is fairness" of the model. "Just go ahead and read. It's absolute freedom."

He also believes this model should appeal to authors. Lorah can offer writers and publishers useful data on reading habits as well as book buying habits. "[If] 70 per cent of your readers don't go past chapter three," Lorah says, "maybe you should think about it." Lorah believes authors don't just want people to buy their books, they want them to actually read them and authors should be compensated accordingly. "It's okay to pay authors to write books that no one reads less than authors that write books that people actually do read."

Author Trevor Cole disagrees and, after talking to a few colleagues, they all "pretty much agreed that this is the work of the devil" and points out that this doesn't happen in other artistic industries. "We wouldn't pay an architect according to how much time we spend in the living room. we don't pay for music by the note," he said. "I think it shows a profound disrespect for the art form and the artist who creates it."

Total Boox currently has over 17,000 titles available to purchase although none of the "big six" publishers in the United States (Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, Harpercollins, Random house and Simon & Schuster) have signed up yet. And Lorah thinks that's a shame. In today's changing publishing landscape, publishers need to explore new and different opportunities in order to get their books into as many hands as possible and the data companies like Total Boox can provide can make finding the right readers easier than ever. Reading is "very personal," Lorah said. "We believe we enable the publishers and the authors to find their true readers."

However, Cole argues that with new model will completely change the nature of those readers. With a pay-as-you-go model, Cole says, "you are constantly in hyper-evaluation mode and you're not relaxing in the moment of reading. When you buy a book, then you get to it when you can and you spend the time with it that you will, without the pressure of having to make a decision on every page about having to continue. You let the story tell you that and the characters, not your evaluation as to whether another page is worth another 10 cents."

What do you think? Do you believe pay-as-you-go is the future of reading? Or does it adversely impact the reading experience?

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