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Saturday, September 7, 2013

'Enhanced Hardcovers' Or 'Devalued E-Books'?

We've all heard of 'bundling' in consumer-offered products. You supposedly get a better deal (price) if you bundle things together --- say like combining auto and home insurance on the same policy or combining telephone, cable and internet together in one 'bundle'.

Does it work? Sometimes, but you really have to keep track of your own services' costs to see if the bundling saves you enough money to be worthwhile.

Next month (October 2013) Amazon will be offering e-book plus print book bundled packages called Kindle MatchBook.

One publishing industry executive previously envisioned such a product as being beneficial but his price points (more expensive) were way different than those being offered by Amazon (cheaper) next month. He called his version 'Enhanced Hardcovers' and felt the bundling would entice consumers and add to the profit of both authors and publishers.

Others, on the other hand, feel the cheaper price points in Kindle MatchBook will further devalue e-books and make them seem like simply add-on items. 

Tonight's feature article and discussion will explain a little about Amazon's Kindle Matchbook and Enhanced Hardcovers and you can decide for yourselves if you believe the new packaged product will be worthwhile or not. 

By Rachel Deahl in Publisher's Weekly:

Are Publishers a Match for Kindle MatchBook?

When Amazon announced on Tuesday that it was launching a program to bundle print and e-books, called Kindle MatchBook, the effort drew little response from publishers, and even less participation. Among the major houses, HarperCollins is currently the only one participating, and it is doing so in a limited fashion. With publishers largely unwilling to talk about the program—most houses PW contacted declined to comment on MatchBook—the question remains whether publishers are not yet willing to try bundling, or whether they simply don’t want to try it with Amazon.

Through MatchBook, Amazon customers can buy e-book editions of new print titles, as well as e-book editions of print titles they have already purchased, at price points ranging from $2.99 to free. The program is set to go live in October and, currently, offers a mix of self-published titles (18,000 by Kindle Direct Publishing authors), as well as titles released by Amazon Publishing. A spokesperson for HarperCollins said that the house has "a selection of our backlist books" available through MatchBook. Amazon remains confident that more publishers will join the program in the future.

Bundling has been a simmering topic in the publishing industry. Some executives, like Evan Schnittman, formerly at Bloomsbury and now at Hachette, have publicly said that the approach could be beneficial. What Schnittman conceived, though, was not a program along the lines of MatchBook. In a previous story, Schnittman told PW about what he calls the “enhanced hardcover,” a bundle with print and e-book editions of a title offered at a price point 25% higher than the standard hardcover price point. The enhanced hardcover, he felt, would entice consumers, while also working towards the profits of both authors and publishers.

MatchBook is nothing like Schnittman's enhanced hardcover concept and, for some, the price points it offers are underwhelming. One publisher, talking off the record, said he was nonplussed about MatchBook. He felt the low prices in the program "further devalues e-books," and makes them "look like a throw-in item."

All the major publishers declined to say what they think of MatchBook, or whether they will join the program. Agent Robert Gottlieb is even skeptical about whether publishers have the right to submit their books into the program.

Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group, said MatchBook exemplifies “a further erosion of the value of authors’ work.” More importantly, for Gottlieb, is the question of whether a program like MatchBook is covered under existing contracts authors have with publishers. “I don’t believe there are provisions in contracts for this type of arrangement,” Gottlieb said, noting that clauses around digital rights ownership in standard contracts do not cover a transaction like the one proposed by MatchBook.

Continued at original article

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