This week, Simon&Schuster made a huge portion of its backlist titles available to ebook subscription platforms Oyster and Scribd, and today HarperCollins followed suit with about 1,000 children’s titles for ebook subscription platform Epic! The site, which aims for the ages five through twelve readership.
Unlike typical library lending through companies like OverDrive which sells a copy of the ebook to the partner library, thus compensating the author and publisher like a typical book sale, Epic! assembles a pool of revenue for the month and that money is distributed among the rights holders based on book consumption that month. This model is more akin to how Amazon’s Kindle Select lending compensates authors whose books are borrowed each month.
Simon&Schuster has already submitted a significant portion of its backlist titles to Epic! for kids’ reading, and HarperCollin’s similar agreement today marks around 4,000 titles that Epic! users can borrow, just in time for summer reading.
One of the interesting features of Epic! is that families can enjoy multiple accounts, meaning different children within the same family can log in and view only their titles. This is an especially helpful feature for families who have wide age ranges within the same household, as content that is appropriate for an emerging reader may not be right for an older reader.
Epic!, which comes as a free iPad app and requires a $9.99 a month subscription, also has a fairly sophisticated recommendation engine, a feature that parents and educators alike will appreciate. Studies have shown that students not only consume more content but also retain that knowledge longer if they had a hand in selecting the reading material. Self-selected reading is also a key component in the Common Core standards for its ability to improve comprehension and reading fluency.