For a bunch of rapacious capitalists, the people who start technology companies are strikingly ambivalent about the concept of owning stuff. Silicon Valley would like to replace the practice of owning copies of, say, a song or a movie, with a world where everything’s kept on servers that people pay to access. Next up: books.
As startups have started offering services inevitably referred to as literary Netflixes or Spotifys, the idea has been gaining momentum. Still, it’s getting a mixed reaction at Digital Book World, a publishing industry conference about e-reading. Meanwhile Oyster, one of the young subscription companies, said Tuesday that it had raised $14 million to expand its four-month-old book service. Still, there’s plenty to be sorted out before a subscription model for e-books takes hold.