walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

weird e-book coverage

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/books/15ebooks.html

"For now, Amazon is taking a loss on each e-book it sells because it generally pays publishers half of the hardcover list price on new releases. So publishers who delay releasing e-books run the risk of losing sales, for which they are now getting higher margins than they are on print books."

So, on the face of it, this just can't be true. If they meant "each e-book which is otherwise available only in hardcover", it might conceivably be true. But are they _really_ taking a loss on all those Harlequins they sell?

This is at least them quoting someone else being an idiot:

"Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, a consultant to publishers on digital issues, said he did not believe e-book buyers cannibalize hardcover sales. “People who read e-books don’t buy physical books, and people who buy physical books don’t buy e-books,” he said."

Again, untrue on the face of it. Everyone I know who reads e-books also reads paper books (I'm not saying that no one reads e-books exclusively -- I just don't know them), altho not everyone I know who reads paper books reads e-books. I could quibble about the next sentence:

"E-books still represent only 1 percent to 2 percent of book sales."

on the basis of the word "only". I'm pretty sure picking up 1-2 percent of book sales over the course of the brief time the kindle has been out (and that's when the big jump happened, albeit in part because other formats became Much Cheaper) isn't something to call "only".

"while the most common price for an e-book has quickly become $9.99."

Really? Prove it. And tell me whether you're basing that on books sold or titles sold. And how you came by the data to make that assertion other than, say, pulling it out of your ass.

The article doesn't need this kind of error-laden garbage to be interesting. Discussing the trade-offs associated with when to release the e-version of a book is important and they laid out at least some of the issues. But they did miss several, because (and this is so typical) of their focus on books that are bought by a wide-range of buyers. Books bought by a smaller range of buyers (things that don't come under the heading of "general" fiction or "general" non-fiction) bring up a whole series of other interesting issues that it looks to me like at least some publishers have a great grasp on. Both fantasy and romance fiction is now running through a fine gradation of price and time points: you can get it in hardcover, then you can get it as a e-book, and then the e-book starts getting price cut, the paperback comes out, the e-book gets cheaper and cheaper, etc. Eventually (depending on which platform you are on), you may be able to buy that book and several more of a related nature/series as a "bundle" for less than a single one hardcover -- in fact, competitive with a single in paper. Baen and HQN both do this, and that's when they aren't just giving away early entries in a series for free to get you hooked on buying the new ones as they come out.

Just because the "respectable" publishers have their heads shoved so far up their asses they find it disturbing to deal with a title available at multiple price points doesn't mean the people really moving the product haven't figured this out.
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