If you doubted that Big Publishers were clueless in raising e-book prices, then you need to read a Wall Street Journal article headlined E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts. Prices rise, but revenue takes a hit. Or else check out The Digital Reader, where Nate nicely sums up the WSJ piece and adds his own touches.
When it comes to e-book pricing, I’m reminded of the scene in the movie Network, when millions chant, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take take this anymore.” So e-book buyer don’t. No one sticks her head out the windows and shouts. Rather, the customers simply stop buying or turn to alternatives such as library books or used paperbacks; or they buy discounted paper books from Amazon, to the detriment of writers. Or, shudder, they don’t buy books at all. See Books vs. other entertainment: The real numbers for the Lilliputians to worry about.
I think, too, of Donald Trump. He isn’t a Big Publisher, but he would fit right in. Trump is a real estate guy, and let’s face it, they’re a long way from the Silicon Valley crowd. You can come up with countless new ways to build skyscrapers or engage in creative financing, but in the end, the possibilities are few compared to those in tech.
New York-style publishing is a mature industry. Too often, Trump-style bluster and sheer salesmanship and bargaining will prevail over innovation. That is why so many books from the big boys are recycled crap. Egos are at stake. To hell with the laws of supply and demand. Let’s think big. Simply put, the publishing industry hasn’t just published The Art of the Deal. Its executives are imitating the business practices of the book’s author even if their haircuts are better.