By Roger Tagholm
For Andrew Weinstein, the newly-arrived Vice President of Content Acquisition at subscription service Scribd, time is one of the main challenges facing the book industry. “As more people spend an increasing amount of time ‘connected’ the share of time people spend reading is at risk,” he maintains. “Publishing great books is not enough if we don’t reach consumers where they are, in business models they are being trained to expect from all media industries.
Founded in 2006, Scribd now boasts some 80 million active users in more than 100 countries and a library of some 40m titles, including the entire HarperCollins US catalogue. Weinstein only joined the company this year, after 11 years at Ingram where he was latterly Vice President and General Manager, Retail Solutions. Over the last 15 years he has been involved in various publishing start-ups, and in 2011 he founded AW Media LLC to look at “strategies and solutions to deliver the future of publishing.”
So how does he see that future? What about physical books and bookshops? “Both absolutely have a future,” he believes. “More and more retailers are adding book sections to their stores as books-only stores struggle a bit. Some people are just printed book people. Not all books convert well to digital format. That said, though, some books are better in ebook format.”
What will Scribd be looking at this year? “Content, content, content. Improving both the reading experience and improving our ability to help subscribers discover books they are likely to want to read.”
Does he think territorial rights act against the spirit of Scribd, namely easy digital access to books no matter where you are. “Territorial restrictions have been a fact of doing business in ebooks, and print, since the birth of the business. As more and more business goes digital and the costs associated with geographic obstacles disappear — like the time and money to ship — more people run into restrictions with content.”
Finally, what does he like to read? “When time permits, I tend to gravitate towards business-y books, and right now I’m reading Clayton Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life [HarperBusiness].”
Andrew Weinstein is among speakers at Subscription Models: pros and cons at the Digital Minds Conference, prior to the London Book Fair, on Monday, April 7.