A real business model: Dailylit’s Pay-Per-Read

Eoin Purcell

The Bookseller reports:

DailyLit, the service that delivers daily installments of books via email or RSS feeds, has launched its Pay-Per-Read program. Thanks to agreements with publishers including Perseus Books Group, the University of Michigan Press, The Globe Pequot Press, E-Reads and Baen Books, readers can get installments of new and bestselling titles in addition to public domain books.

DailyLit has more detail here like the full list of books available and confirms the price scale too:

The Pay-Per-Read titles will add 30+ books to DailyLit�s current listing of 500+ titles. Each complete book is priced from $4.95 to $9.95, with the majority of books available for under $5.00.

A better model
To me this seems a much better long term bet than the dramatic but (to my mind) ultimately ineffective effort by Radiohead which has drawn so much comment in recent weeks (more here). For one thing Radiohead’s model will work for Radiohead and maybe a couple of dozen other acts leaving everyone else to soak up the dregs.

There is promise in this one.

Impressed by this book
PS You can read the DailyLit blog here
PSS: Interesting piece on the workplace of the future here (features Malcom Gladwell riffing on stuff NineShift said years ago [hat tip to 37Signals])

5 thoughts on “A real business model: Dailylit’s Pay-Per-Read

  1. Not so sure that you are right that the Radiohead process is not generalisable. But I agree that they are taking advantage of their established position and its not so easy to see how new bands will get to be Radioheads without the labels.

    On the other hand the Radiohead strategy is brilliant for promotion (whether or not the business model for selling and product innovation is sustainable) and book publishers should be using the web for content promotion more than they are. See

  2. Adam,

    I think it is generalizable I just think the return will be paltry for anyone not of the level of Radiohead, just like software contributions attract little revenue except to the top designers, this remains a pull down service too so promotion and marketing become even bigger deals for the band/author/software developer. If you don’t make noise to get people to come to your site, you don’t get downloads and you don’t get revenue that is why only the biggies will benefit. So yeah its a model that will work for big publishers with big names, but for independents and smaller outfits its the same old same old!


  3. Eoin — so you think the Radiohead exercise is like advertising on TV or on the Tube. Something which will always only make sense for big books and big name authors. I would say that making an effective web-sampling strategy is pretty much comparable to having four colour jackets on hardback books. Whoever pioneered that move 50 years ago has been emulated by millions of editor/designers and a lot more books have been sold. In three years time we will know who is right about that!

  4. I think Radiohead was closer to the right track, although they might have missed the point (or not have cared about creating a stable business model in the first place and only been hunting for PR). Anyway, to just let people set their own price is ridiculous. Free Markets don’t mean turning everything into a giant “Need a penny, take a penny” jar. Technically it needs to be a constant negotiation. Radiohead needs to be taking all the data they’re receiving and making counter-offers to the public in order to reach a price that best reflects the value of their work. Granted, the notion of Radiohead manning their website at all hours to do this is rather silly, but it seems that setting up a program to sift the data constantly isn’t such a big step. It’s basically how Google AdWords functions. They seem to be doing okay.

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