[SPOILER: It is an insane concept.] I've filed this under humour because frankly it's too ridiculous to take seriously.
However, this isn't an article by The Onion, and it's something the CEO of Harper-Collins said.
HarperCollins c.e.o. Victoria Barnsley has said the idea of the bookshop as a book club, charging for browsing, is "not that insane", given the level of threat faced by the general bookshop.
I'm no bookseller, but if 'the level of threat faced by the general bookshop' is so severe, then putting a pay wall between the customer and the threatened shop isn't 'not that insane'. It is, in actual fact, utterly insane.
If someone at the top of a major publishing house is that out of touch with the concept of how shops work, one has to start wondering how out of touch with commercial reality they are in general? Let's see what this visionary of modern publishing thinks about DRM:
Barnsley said there was a major debate within the industry over DRM, commenting: "If you don't have it, the risk is that there's a lot of sharing . . . [but] keeping it on allows retailers like Amazon to continue running their walled gardens which is not a good thing."
No surprises there.
Let me correct her statement: if you don't have it, it makes no difference, because every DRM'd eBook is already freely shared. DRM provides no barrier to even the casual computer user frustrated by it. The only thing DRM does is a) waste a publisher's money b) treat customers as criminals c) allow companies to lock legal customers into their own ecosystems (at least she got that bit right).