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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

E-Book Publishing Trends in 2012

In 2011 digital publishing outgrew its pants almost every week it seemed.

Well, hang on to your asses because 2012 e-book maturation and development will be even more explosive!

And e-book pricing ... which has become the big white elephant in the room ... will focus more on individual true content value and quality and not be subject to a preconceived price for e-books as a whole.

This then is from Laura Hazard Owen on PaidContent.org (The Economics of Digital Content):

What’s Coming In 2012: Book Publishing

This is the second in a series of posts over the next week that will highlight key people, companies and trends to watch in 2012 in the sectors we cover most, from publishing to legal, and from mobile to advertising.

2011 was a busy and eventful year in book publishing—but 2012 promises to be even more so, as various issues that started bubbling up in ‘11 shift and mature. Here are three predictions.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble make a deal, sort of: As Amazon becomes a full-fledged publisher, it has not yet dealt with its bookstore distribution problem. For now, bricks-and-mortar bookstores are still an important place of discovery of new titles. While some have argued that Amazon will simply ignore these bookstores, that the company always takes a long-term strategy and that it won’t care if it misses some physical store sales, I think the company’s recent beefing-up of its force of sales reps suggests it does consider bricks-and-mortar stores at least somewhat significant for now. And with the company publishing books by more high-profile authors like Tim Ferriss and Penny Marshall, readers will be looking for those books in stores.

While a few indies have said they’ll be reluctant to carry Amazon books, Barnes & Noble has said straight out that it won’t carry Amazon titles in print in stores if it can’t also sell them as e-books. I predict that Amazon will offer a select number of new titles, in both print and digital formats, to Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS). The arrangement will probably be less than ideal for Barnes & Noble in some way, because I think Amazon will try to find a way to use Barnes & Noble stores as showrooms while still directing buyers to Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN). Maybe Amazon will set high list prices on all of its own new digital titles (it’s already done this with its upcoming Tim Ferriss book), while continuing to sell those books at major discounts in the Kindle store.

E-book pricing will shift to quality-focused debates: The e-book pricing debate up to now has generally focused on the idea that all e-books should cost the same and that all should be priced low. But why should a self-published or mass market thriller necessarily cost the same as a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in e-book form? It doesn’t make sense to me to say that all e-books should cost $9.99 or less.

I am not the only one who thinks this, even though most commenters hated my $9.99 e-books post. Author John Scalzi recently announced that he’ll delete those comments on his blog “in which the focus…is how you don’t like the price of the e-book.” He writes:

"I think it’s important to understand that eBooks are not special snowflakes; they’re just books in electronic form. As someone who prefers to read in eBook form, you are not substantially different from someone who prefers hardcovers, or trade paperbacks, or mass market paperbacks. If someone who preferred paperbacks (or at the very least paperback pricing) showed up on my site on a regular basis to whine and moan about how books should always be priced at that paperback level, on a comment thread that is meant to be on another subject entirely, I would find them tiresome too. Books: They have variable price points! Based on release dates, consumer interest and format, among many other factors!"

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