HarperCollins has signed a content agreement with Playster, a recently-launched media subscription platform, making more than 14,000 of its backlist titles available to Playster subscribers. Playster currently offers subscription access to books, music, games, TV shows and films for $15.95 a month, and plans to open the platform to the public, with an app, in summer 2015
Currently in Beta, Playster was launched with private equity investment in 2014. The company is based in Montreal and, according to company marketing and communications spokesperson Erika Khanna, the deal with HarperCollins marks Playster’s first major book contract. “Harper is our first, but we will have a few more publishers coming on soon,” Khanna said. She also acknowledged that “right now the book service is our most developed category.”
The service is offering a month of free access to attract customers. Khanna noted that the current price of the service will be $15.95 a month. While pricing is under discussion, she also said that there are no current plans to change the price point. Although Playster offers access to all media formats, its pricing puts it at a disadvantage with other book subscription services. Oyster and Scribd, for example, charge $9.95 and $8.99 a month, respectively, and have much larger title inventories.
“Our pricing is in flux,” Khanna said, noting that Playster is also considering offering an “a la carte” feature that would allow consumers to subscribe to a specific content channel, say, just books, or books and music. “Pricing for that kind of service is still to be determined,” she said.
While Playster offers its subscribers unlimited access to all popular media content, the service lacks frontlist titles from most of the major labels, houses, studios and game developers. The newest HarperCollins backlist titles on Playster appear to be from 2013, and include such titles as American Sniper by Chris Kyle and The Shadow Effect by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford and Marianne Williamson.
Khanna said the service’s co-founders were frustrated with the proliferation of services like Netflix, that focus on a single type of media. “Playster offers a space for users to have all their media in one place,” Khanna explained. She added that the service is still in beta because the company wants “to test the market, see what people are looking at, and decide on price points.” Playster, she said, will not feature any advertising.
Like all subscription platforms, Playster is positioning itself as a tool for discovery and recommendations. To this end, users will be able to see the playlists and content preferences of their friends on the site. Seeing "what your friends are consuming," Khanna said, is an ideal way to discover new content.
Correction: Erika Khanna's name was misspelled. Her comments on pricing were corrected to state there are "no current plans to change the price." In addition Playster is based in Montreal, not L.A.