Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Falling Dominoes

I believe there will be a time when e-books will be interactive, have pictures like some of the e-textbooks already have, perhaps even have a way of asking the author questions or visiting their websites (e-readers already have Internet capabilities), maybe even videos.

The Wall Street Journal has an article that shows some of this is beginning to happen.
Macmillan, one of the country's largest book publishers, says it will begin selling enhanced electronic-book best sellers in the first quarter of 2010. The special editions, which will include author interviews and other material such as reading guides, will carry a list price slightly higher than the hardcover edition.
Notice that these enhancements will come with a higher price than the e-book alone. The enhancements also affect the pub date. Macmillan says these new e-books will go on sale the same day as the hardcover edition, then after 90 days, the special edition will be replaced by the standard e-book. BUT, best-sellers not issued in this way will have hard covers issued, then several months later, the standard e-books will come out. BUT, if the book is not a best-seller, the e-book will come out the same day as the hardcover.

Some other publishers are withholding e-books altogether.

At the moment, it’s still convoluted and varies from publisher to publisher. Publishers are worried about profit. With hardcovers selling at around $25, and e-books being sold by Amazon and B&N for about $10 even though they pay the same price for e-books as they pay for hardcover (and are therefore losing money but hoping to gain buyers’ loyalty), publishers worry that retailers will demand a lower price and publishers will have to cut prices and, in the end, lose money.

And if they lose money, then they will cut even more midlist or new authors and… so the dominoes keep falling.
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22 comments:

  1. What a complex business! I fail at dominoes quite regularly so I'll let the market play as it chooses. As long as my job remains writing what I love!

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  2. I didn't know that Amazon pays the same price for e-books as for hardcover. Seems a bit odd to me since there's no paper or postage involved with e-books.

    The book business is very strange and I can only hope that someone will come up with a way to stop the dominoes now that they have started to fall.

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  3. Great! I hope you're right - that's exactly the technology I've been waiting for to effectively e-pub my Adventures of Adam Atom for the YA market.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  4. Whoa, Marvin. Adam Atom exploding in an e-book? Yowsers.

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  5. But I do like how MacMillan is enticing people to buy the more expensive ebook with the extras tagged on. Oh to find something, anything, positive in the current state of publishing!

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  6. I like the sound of the ebook with extras - "extras" are why we upgraded to Blu-ray DVD players - the Blu-ray discs have SO many cool extras! I suspect folks will enjoy the additional content if it's well-done.

    Thanks for this excellent post! I will go and retweet it now!

    Lynda Sappington

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  7. Makes sense publishers would be exploring multi-media opportunites. Be interesting to see how it plays out.

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  8. It's always all about the money, and the publisher wants the biggest piece of the pie. Well, actually the distributor gets a hefty slice. Regardless, the author is always the last on the list and gets pittance compared to the others. So maybe the real future of e-books will be the authors going directly to sites like Kindle and putting their own books up there.

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  9. As Maryann said, it's always about the money!

    I did read something yesterday about Stephen Covey shifting ebook rights to Amazon. Think he's the first big name to do so.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  10. Didn't get to congratulate you on your award, Helen, congratulations!

    And the one thing that jumped out at me was the part about maybe being able to "e-talk" with the author--which is a great idea, except as an author I had a vision of hundreds of questions a day. And I already spend too much time on the net!

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  11. Interactive e-books. Cool. I want one now. Like a 'choose your own adventure', but for adults. I don't think the dominoes are going to completely tumble. Publishing is just going through a change.

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  12. Reminds me of the "Vook" that came out recently.
    I think it's safe to say no one really knows where books will be in ten years!

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  13. You're right, we don't know where books will be in 10 years. That's exciting! And scary.

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  14. Ha, aren't hardcover books the original "interactive e-book"?

    I really don't know what to think of all this. I read e-books, but works I absolutely love MUST be in some physical form on my bookshelf, too.

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  15. I wonder if someday we'll read e-books but will keep holographic copies on our bookshelves.

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  16. Technology is advancing at such an amazing pace :) Fun stuff!

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  17. It is fun. Confusing, but fun.

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  18. I guess some people want extras but like DVDs, some people just want the story. I don't think I've ever watched any of the 'extra' material on second discs supplied with the purchase of a DVD. I just want to watch the movie. I buy a book, I just want to read it. If I wish to talk to the author or find out about the background of the book I can visit their website or google the information, I shouldn't need to pay extra with the book.
    Things change and we'll see where they all end up I guess.

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  19. I actually have no objection against ebook. I like them being environmentally friendly and allow instant access.

    Really Angelic

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  20. I recommend the book 'The Diamond Age, a young victorian girl's primer' by Neal Stephenson, to get a notion of the complexity that awaits future generations of readers. It is a wonderful novel.

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