Friday, September 25, 2009

New Strategies

In the past, we’ve talked about publishers being a bit slow to jump on the e-book wagon. They now seem to be trying to get onboard and looking for new innovations (or re-working old innovations). While surfing around, I found an article in BussinessWeek called Publishers Try to Learn to Love the Web.

Some of it was old news - publishers are selling digital versions for e-Readers. Yeah, heard that before, although this was interesting:
Across the publishing industry, revenue rose 1.8%, to $3.71 billion, in the first half of 2009, according to the Association of American Publishers. In the first half of 2009, e-book sales reached $61.2 million, up from $24.6 million a year earlier, the AAP says.
Keep in mind, though, those figures include things like textbooks.
… Cengage Learning … has found that selling digital copies alongside physical books has done little to erode demand for physical books…. Cengage sells digital versions of its textbooks online for about half the price of its physical titles. It also sells individual e-book chapters for as little as $1.99. "It's one of the fastest-growing parts of our business…
Here’s a couple of new ideas, though. Some publishers are catering to businesses.
O'Reilly and Pearson Education run Safari Books Online, a service that lets budget-conscious companies and universities make certain digital books available to large pools of users at a time. "In this economy, the business is a little stronger because when people cut their training budgets, this becomes a cheaper option," says Paige Mazzoni, vice-president of marketing at Safari, which boasts more than 15 million users and expects revenue to double this year.
And here’s an idea that, although not totally new, was news to me:
Some providers of Netflix-like book-reading services hope to enter revenue-sharing agreements with publishers as well. Take, whose users can keep books for as long as they want, then mail them back to get new ones for a subscription that starts at $15 a month.
Just last Friday, we discussed a guy doing something similar for his own book. He urged buyers of his book to pass it on to friends (who would then voluntarily send him money) and the cycle would continue until the book wore out. Not exactly like Netflix. If I were a fast reader and didn't like to save books, then a monthly subscription for books might be a good idea. Hmm.
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  1. Helen, ref the book sharing service. I've heard of a pretty big outfit doing something similar for next to nothing. The library. ;)

  2. Guess this would be a service for those not near a library or who would rather have their books delivered.

    You made me chuckle this morning, Anton. Always good!

  3. I think it would be an interesting idea for some forms of books--audio being among them--but I agree with Anton. The library would work just as well.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  4. Especially when you consider, the library is free.

    But I do remember there was a time when we had a Blockbuster close by, but we still signed up for Netflix. Eventually dropped it, but did use it for about a year.

  5. Like you Helen, I'm not a fast reader and I don't want to give the books I read back so a monthly subscription wouldn't work for me. Like the mention by Anton and Elizabeth, I also agree it's going to be tough to compete with a library system that's free.

  6. Yeah,I tried the Netflix thing for a year then gave it up as well. People do like their conveniences though. If it saves a trip to the library, some folks might do it even if it costs a little.

  7. Ultimately it seems good that at least publishers are getting "think tanks" going, considering new ideas, moving forward into technology. I don't think they can resist it too much longer, particularly in seeking the younger generation of readers.

  8. I must admit my first thought about the book subscription concept was "I have a library already...". Interesting post, Helen as we all should be aware what the publishing industry is thinking!


  9. "If I were a fast reader and didn't like to save books, then a monthly subscription for books might be a good idea. Hmm."

    Indeed - my muse exactly.

    The Old Silly

  10. If the libraries don't jump on the e-book bandwagon I can imagine profitable e-library services. They could charge "rental" on the e-reader too, like TV services that make you rent the DVR.

  11. Anyway you look at it, things are shaking up and I think that's a good thing. One thing, at the library they make you pay for the new books so you're renting them anyway. I have a Kindle. I only buy coffee table book sand discounted books. (A girls got to have some flesh and blood reading material.)

    Good post, good information. Thanks!

  12. I like the "netbook" idea and Sheila's idea about e-libraries. In fact, I like all the ideas about electronic availability of books.

    I have too many books.

  13. The first thing I thought of, it's called a Library, but I guess others did too!
    Have you seen/heard of
    That could work for those not near a library.

  14. My wife uses audio books on the way too and from work…to support my dead, retired, butt…anyway, the library doesn’t always have a good collection of audio books, and, they’re expensive to buy, so, some kind of Netflix thing would work great for her. Wondering if is something like that? Have to check it out.

    Best Regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  15. I like audio books in the car, too. Got a couple to listen to, but I'm sharing a car with my son & he listens to CDs. Hard to keep track of a book when it keeps being taken out of the player.

    Straight From Hel

  16. Thanks Elizabeth. I didn't know that the library charges for new books. And it's great to hear from someone who has a Kindle!

  17. OMG, Netflix for books?! I do like to save books, but in my days of travel and moving, I realize I don't NEED nearly as many books as I thought I did, and there are loads of books I donated last year that I had never read, yet purchased years before. The library is great, but alas, in my small town you don't always find the book you're looking for and up to six weeks sometimes isn't long enough especially when I have trouble finishing a book simply because I have a time limit, this of course stems from being a bit of an anarchist and having trouble with authority back in my school days (which are not over), 'You say I have to read this, well guess what?! It could be the best book in the world, but I'm not gonna, nope, you can't make me.' Anyway, I would LOVE netflix for books and I have to check this out.

    Also, six text books in one electronic device, genius, the adults of the future will have less back problems from carrying around that heavy back pack. Too bad this didn't make it even ten years earlier.

    Thanks for your birthday comments H, I maybe had a bit more than one, but I still remember how much fun I had, and it was LOADS! Twenty seven isn't as scary as I once thought. I'll enjoy it while I'm here. :)


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