I’m just throwing out ideas here, I’m hoping people jump in with their own.
Background on my crazy: I escaped a dying profession (journalism) to try to make money with my passion (writing) but traditional book publishing is on death’s door, too. My profession is PR and marketing. I can’t help but combine these things when I think about the fiction book publishing industry and how what happened to the music industry and the fiction book publishing industry are related.
Why not make streaming books? Set up a free Wattpad service for the novice writers looking to find their audience (raises hand) for the people just trying to figure things out, and a subscription based model for authors who draw a certain level of audeince within their category so that employed, more sophisticated readers can subscribe to read for a fee. Or something.
Or maybe authors could get paid on some model based on the number of people who read the book, how much of the book they read, or there could be an ancillary donation system that rewards its patrons with special goodies a la Patreon. I mean, bands don’t get paid based on Spotify popularity so much as with concert tickets and merch. Authors can’t do concerts and merch, but, maybe there’s some other way to make money on the side instead of selling content. People don’t seem to have to pay for content anymore unless there’s an overriding reason to do so.