Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

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Nathan Bransford
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Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 9th, 2009, 11:27 am

The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback," said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS Corp. "We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new [electronic] readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed base of e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... lenews_wsj

What do you guys think? Should e-books be treated like paperbacks or should they be released at the same time as hardcovers?

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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by taymalin » December 9th, 2009, 11:56 am

Honestly, the whole waiting for a paperback to come out because I can't afford the hardcover thing irritates me. Especially since I read a lot of series and am anxious for the next book to come out. I've shelled out $35 cdn and more for a hardcover book, which seems like a good idea for the profit margin but sucks for me because for that price I could have gotten 3 or 4 paperback books, had triple the entertainment value and supported more writers.

It would be nice to have a cheaper option when the hardcovers are released--though I haven't been sold on the whole e-book idea yet. I'll admit though, my only reservation on e-books is the cost of a reader.

Tay
Last edited by taymalin on December 9th, 2009, 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by MosesSiregar » December 9th, 2009, 12:56 pm

As someone who wants to see the publishing industry financially successful, and as someone who wants to sell lots of hardcovers some day, I think this move makes perfect sense.

Here's something I'm not sure I understand, though. Let's say a hardcover retails for $30. How much does the publisher make on that sale versus on a $9.99 ebook? It sounds like publishers are still making quite a bit from the ebook.
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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 9th, 2009, 1:13 pm

MosesSiregar wrote:As someone who wants to see the publishing industry financially successful, and as someone who wants to sell lots of hardcovers some day, I think this move makes perfect sense.

Here's something I'm not sure I understand, though. Let's say a hardcover retails for $30. How much does the publisher make on that sale versus on a $9.99 ebook? It sounds like publishers are still making quite a bit from the ebook.
Right now they're making roughly the same amount for an e-book as they are for a hardcover. I think their worry is that if people think $9.99 is what a new book should cost it throws the entire pricing model for books into disarray. So, for now, they don't lose on e-books, but they want to hold the line all the same.

Personally I think lower price points for new releases is an inevitability. In this day and age the number of people willing to $25 for a new book is shrinking fast with so many other low-cost or free entertainment options available. This may delay the inevitable a little longer, but I think publishers annoy digital consumers at their peril.

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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by MosesSiregar » December 9th, 2009, 1:22 pm

Hm. Then once ebooks are our overlords, we'll probably see the prices of ebooks creeping up year after year? For now, players like Amazon and B&N are still trying to get people in the door and woo them with their shiny new toys. After we're hooked, though, they must be eyeing figures like $12.95 or more. Have they made any promises about how long the $9.99 price will stick around?
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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by JFBookman » December 9th, 2009, 1:40 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:Personally I think lower price points for new releases is an inevitability. In this day and age the number of people willing to $25 for a new book is shrinking fast with so many other low-cost or free entertainment options available. This may delay the inevitable a little longer, but I think publishers annoy digital consumers at their peril.
Interesting point, Nathan. It looks like the hardcover is in jeopardy although I'm sure it won't go extinct anytime soon. I think part of the problem is also the perception of value. Holding that shiny new hardcover, feeling the heft of a couple of pounds of paper and cloth and board, you have less resistance to the price being asked. For a download, and particularly because the ereaders "flatten" all books so they pretty much look the same, the perception just isn't there. Maybe it will take a while before buyers learn to lose their prejudice toward the physical object and instead focus on the content itself. Hey, maybe that would be a good thing?
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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by Mira » December 9th, 2009, 3:04 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:Personally I think lower price points for new releases is an inevitability. In this day and age the number of people willing to $25 for a new book is shrinking fast with so many other low-cost or free entertainment options available. This may delay the inevitable a little longer, but I think publishers annoy digital consumers at their peril.
Nathan, I absolutely agree. I think the pros are small, and the cons, large. Publishers would be wise to see the writing on the wall and start fostering good relations with e-book customers. They need to start looking at increasing quantity of sales, rather than holding out for high prices - which are doomed, anyway.

Personally, with a few exceptions, I have always refused to buy hardcover. I don't want it - it's bulky, hurts my hands to hold up and takes up too much space on my shelf. I'll wait a year or more for paperback. Pretty soon, I'll wait however long for an e-book.

This is one of the reasons books have historically been a low sale item. Forcing hardcover books first slows the market down. They never should have done it that way, in the first place, IMHO. It left out entire segments of the population who would have bought at a lower price, but forget about the book by the time it comes out in paperback.

You have to move your product when it's ready. If you're advertising for it now, meet the market demand, and match what the market is willing to pay for it.

Okay, that's my two cents. :) Very interesting topic, thank you.

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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by a_r_williams » December 10th, 2009, 1:38 am

I think trying to maintain the current model makes sense, for the time being. It allows the publishing companies to maintain some semblance of control for their product. It also gives them time to monitor how the e-book marketplace will eventully shake out and allow them to devise a better plan to deal with the new technology.

But I also see a time when e-books will win out based on a majority of the population owning them, either as a separate reader or an added app. The music industry is a good example of how the model may eventually work with the main difference being that you can't purchase half of a novel. Readers will come to expect that the price of e-books should be $9.99 ( or less ).

As the e-book market expands I expect the pricing point to come under ever increasing fire. A lot of people will not feel that something that has no physical need for a brick and mortar warehouse, has no physical cost of paper, ink, printing, cover design, shipping, and returns should cost more than a paperback novel which requires all of those things.


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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by ChrisisAlwaysRight » December 10th, 2009, 5:20 pm

I put this on the blog, then figured it would be better in here. Love the new look by the way.

Nathan, I realise we can't just change the entire publishing industry ourselves, but I do see another option that no one here (or anywhere) seems to have considered.

Release the e-book and the paperback at the same time. There's not much difference in price between the two, and a lot of customers will buy these cheaper options.

After a while, release the hardcover. Include extras in it, like a foreword by the author, or a short story that won't be published anywhere else. Have the cover artist do a few illustrations inside. Make it special. Make it something the people who bought the cheap versions are going kick themselves for not holding out for.

Not only will you kill piracy, you'll double your income.

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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by a_r_williams » December 10th, 2009, 5:51 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:I wrote a new blog post on this issue: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/12 ... eases.html
Thanks for posting this :)

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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 10th, 2009, 6:07 pm

ChrisisAlwaysRight wrote:I put this on the blog, then figured it would be better in here. Love the new look by the way.

Nathan, I realise we can't just change the entire publishing industry ourselves, but I do see another option that no one here (or anywhere) seems to have considered.

Release the e-book and the paperback at the same time. There's not much difference in price between the two, and a lot of customers will buy these cheaper options.

After a while, release the hardcover. Include extras in it, like a foreword by the author, or a short story that won't be published anywhere else. Have the cover artist do a few illustrations inside. Make it special. Make it something the people who bought the cheap versions are going kick themselves for not holding out for.

Not only will you kill piracy, you'll double your income.
I definitely think this is an interesting idea, especially for debuts. Why not first build up an audience through e-books and possibly a more cheaply priced paperback and then sell a hardcover with extra that's more like a collector's edition? I think you'll see people experimenting with this idea down the line. If they had a sense of the demand publishers might be better able to estimate their print runs.


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Re: Hachette and S&S to Delay Release of E-books

Post by ElisabethMoore » December 11th, 2009, 4:17 pm

Here is another take the decision to delay the release of ebooks:
http://www.idealog.com/blog/the-ebook-w ... as-subtext


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