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Sunday, April 22, 2012

In the eBook Business, Authors and Readers Are Necessary, Publishers Are Not

Publishers Panic!
History repeats itself, especially if people do not learn from past mistakes.

The publishing industry [by that I mean the old, big house publishing model - not the new digital, streamlined model :)] is going down the same mistake laden path that the music industry did a few years ago.

And what's worse, I believe the publishing powers to be (or should I say mental midgets) were warned of this.

When the new digital tech RE publishing exploded on the scene and leveled the playing field, big publishers tried to maintain ebook prices at or close to print book prices.

Well, the book loving public (smarter than they realized --- as with their music loving cousins) revolted by pirating the ebooks in one way or another, e.g. getting them free from file-sharing sites.

Publishers should listen to their customers! When they think a price is too high they will go elsewhere or pirate it.

'Once record companies put a reasonable price on their products, the vast majority of buyers gave up piracy and started paying for their music. The same can happen with eBooks.'

Ed Hardy, writing for Tablet PC Review, says:

Book Publishers Must Learn the Same Lessons Music Publishers Did


Last week, the U.S. Justice Dept. sued some of the world's largest publishers as well as Apple, accusing them of eBook price fixing. This lawsuit wouldn't be necessary if eBook publishers would learn the lessons that music publishers did a decade ago.


As it stands now, publishing companies like MacMillan, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and others want to charge more for the digital versions of books than most of their customers think they are worth. These companies frequently price eBooks the same, or just below, the printed versions. Few of their customers see the logic in this -- publishing a book electronically removes the costs of printing, shipping, and storing a physical object.

The argument the publishers make in response is that the majority of the cost of a book isn't in printing it, but rather in their overhead of paying authors and editors, advertising, etc. The answer this this is clear: if they don't find ways to significantly lower their overhead, these companies are going to be out of business in a few years.

Learn from the Past

There is another industry that was in a similar situation a few years ago: the music business. Around the turn of the millennium, the Apple iPod had made the CD obsolete, and consumers wanted to buy MP3s. The music publishers didn't want to sell these -- they liked being able to force people to buy a whole CD in order to get the one or two songs they actually wanted.

Consumers felt they were being ripped off, and turned to pirating songs instead of buying them. The music industry struggled for years... until record companies finally bit the bullet and started selling songs in digital formats at reasonable prices. Now, people are buying more tracks than ever and the music industry is healthy again.

History Repeating Itself

Book publishers must learn from music producers. Currently, when their customers complain that eBooks are too expensive compared to the security of owning the printed version of a work, the publishers tell them to buy the printed book -- as if that was the only other option.

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