E vs. P price debate: Sourcebooks delays e-book version of potential bestseller
July 13, 2009 | 6:39 am
Bran Hambric, aimed at the Harry Potter crowd, will come out on paper September 9 but won’t be an e-book for at least another six months.
Sourcebooks, the publisher, worries that $9.95 editions in E could steal sales from the paper.
It’s not alone, if you go by a Wall Street Journal piece. And certain publishers are insisting that if E comes out with P, then the prices should be higher than the $9.95 Amazon has been offering. Excerpt from the Journal:
“Some publishers have already embraced alternative means of selling e-books that give them more control over price. Last month, CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster publishing arm began setting its own prices on nearly 5,000 e-books sold by Scribd Inc., a Web site that allows people to post and read documents online.”
So, gang, who do you think will win this one? The old-guard publishers or new rivals like Quartet Press, which lack the same huge investment in the pulped-wood approach?
The backlist factor: Less price clout for old houses in the future?
The catch is that you can’t buy, say, The Catcher in the Rye from Quartet Press, which, anyway, is starting out with a focus on romance titles. But with so much hype for new bestsellers, the old houses may be losing their traditional backlist advantage.
Yet another factor could be that young people’s taste in books is so different from their parents’. And in the evil Net may have no small part to do with that. Does Holden Caufield use Facebook or Twitter? Didn’t think so. Even if Harry Potter doesn’t tweet and isn’t a hacker in the literal sense, he still seems to appeal to those caught up in the Net ethos.
I’m not celebrating the above. Rather I am just pointing out why the backlist may not count as much, long term, as the big guys hope, meaning that they’ll be more vulnerable to competition from reasonably priced e-books from new, Net-hip houses.
I could also mention the piracy factor—the fact that if E isn’t reasonably priced at stores, people will go elsewhere for it. But then I’ve already spoiled some people’s Monday morning enough. OK. Have some more coffee, and use the caffeine jolt to brainstorm about sustainable business models.