October 6, 2015 Last Updated 1:55 pm

Bonnier is working on its own eBook subscription service in Sweden – BookBeat

Though not open to the public yet, and only taking emails from interested readers, the service will offer audiobooks and ebooks, including backlist and new titles

With Oyster walking away and Scribd scaling back, it would be easy to assume that the future of streaming ebook services is Kindle Unlimited, but Bonnier would disagree.

Bookbeat-screen-600This publishing conglomerate has just started developing a subscription ebook and audiobook service in its native Sweden.

Bookbeat is not yet open to the public and is in fact still recruiting staff, so there’s not much to say at this time, but I can report that the website is describing it as a flat rate service like Scribd or KU which will let users read as much as they want. The site is promising audiobooks and ebooks, including both backlist and the latest titles.

The service is still only taking emails from interested readers, but it is promising that subscribers will be offered personal and personalized recommendations for what they should listen to or read next.

And here’s how the service is being pitched to potential employees:

Book Beat is a digital subscription service for audio and ebooks and a new and important strategic investment in Bonnier. The goal is to create and successfully operate the future digital consumer service for books, both nationally and internationally.

Judging by the number of job listings (which just started appearing last week) and the fact the site only went live this morning, Bookbeat is still in the early stages of development. We don’t know when it will launch, but I have been told that Bookbeat is planning a soft launch by the end of the year, and then going broader in the start of 2016.

When it does go live, Bookbeat will be competing with Bookmate (out of Russia), Mofibo (out of Denmark), and Fabula (out of Latvia). Two of the three already offer service in Sweden. That would give them the advantage – if not for the fact that Bonnier is backing Bookbeat as a “strategic investment”.

This is one of the major publishers in Sweden, and it will be making its titles available to Bookbeat. That will give the service an advantage.

This is a bold wager on the part of Bonnier.

Given the terms promised to subscribers, Bookbeat is going to have to pay publishers based on shares of a pool of money for each book loaned to a subscriber, rather than pay publishers based on the retail price.

Many publishers have balked at that idea (see Steven Zacharius in yesterday’s post, to name one example) and yet Bonnier is forging ahead. And that makes sense; there’s simply no other viable option for offering an unlimited service at a flat costs.

Nate Hoffelder is the editor and publisher of The Digital Reader.

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