Emily Books, the independent ebookstore and publisher cofounded by writer and former Gawker editor Emily Gould, has offered readers a subscription model since its launch in 2011: One ebook a month, for $13.99 a month or $159.99 a year. Now the company is taking that model to iOS, with a new reading app that also allows subscriptions.
Emily Books largely focuses on “transgressive memoir and fiction,” usually written by women, that has never been published in digital format before. Titles include the little-known Muriel Sparks novel Loitering with Intent and Meghan Daum’s essay collection My Misspent Youth.
The app, “Emily Books Reader,” was built by 29th Street Publishing, a New York-based startup that has also built iOS magazines for publications like Serious Eats and The Awl. (Gould is also the editorial director at 29th Street.)
Each issue of “Emily Books Reader” includes the month’s ebook selection, an introduction to the book by Gould or her cofounder Ruth Curry, two to three related essays and a Q&A with the author. The first issue, which includes an excerpt of Emily Books’ most recent selection and all of the supplementary material, is free. After that, an Emily Books subscription through the app is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. Subscriptions through the app are cheaper than subscriptions through Emily Books’ website because subscriptions on the site let users download a DRM-free EPUB or MOBI file, while app subscriptions only let you read through the app. (Users who have subscribed to Emily Books through the website can also read the books through the iOS app for free.)
Gould sees Emily Books Reader as a way to attract readers who would not have known about the company otherwise. Emily Books currently has under 200 subscribers and has sold 1,000 individual titles through its site.
“We spend a lot of time teaching people how to plug a USB cable into their Kindle,” Gould admitted. But, she said, “I got really excited about the idea of an iOS app because that’s how I read books. I loved the idea of just getting a push notification that a book was ready for me to read.”