Swedish startup Sesamy is trying to butcher the subscription model

Ahh, the pain of digital content. You want to buy one audiobook or listen to one premium podcast, but a goddamn paywall means you have to pay for a subscription to an entire platform. Sure, it might open you up to new content, but it’s more likely to result in a subscription you never use. Or, even worse, accidentally auto-renew.

But a Swedish startup is here to take your pain away: Sesame.

It’s the brainchild of the people behind it cast, the world’s largest podcasting platform. Simply put, Sesamy lets you purchase individual audiobooks, ebooks, and podcasts without the need for a subscription.

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So far, the Stockholm-based company has partnered with all major book publishers in Sweden and Denmark to offer users the option to buy digital content in one go. You can then use it on any app or device.

This means you can play Sesamy audiobooks in your favorite audio app and download watermarked ebooks to any ereader. And you actually own the book instead of renting it from a platform like Amazon Kindle.

A solution to a problem facing the publishing world

Publishers are struggling to win over cost-cutting readers, and Sesamy offers them a new business model and potential source of revenue. The company started operations in October SmartID with Swedish publication Breakit, enabling publishers to monetize unsubscribed readers, without cannibalizing their existing digital subscription revenues.

The software will also include built-in pricing optimization that suggests a fair cost of sale to readers and publishers, keeping the platform competitive. And this extra revenue can add up at a time when people are canceling their subscriptions to save money.

Let’s be clear. Sesamy does not offer free books. But anyone looking for an alternative to the recently closed shadow book and article repository Z library may find this a lot more accessible than spending tons on expensive subscriptions.

What’s next? The company announced a financing round of € 3.3 million this week and will use the capital to make single issues of newspapers and magazines more accessible. Anyone who has had to sign up for a month to read a solo article is now jumping for joy.

In the future, I’d like to see Sesamy’s business model expanded to academic content, which is almost always behind a paywall. Ideally, it should be freely available to everyone, but that’s not the world we live in, especially with publishers struggling in this current environment.

Something like Sesamy not only creates a new business model for digital publishing, it does so by providing a service that users really want. That’s the kind of win-win that has the potential to turn the entire digital content industry upside down.

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