Big Publishing is now over its issues with the digital and is quite on top of the e-book universe, says Carolyn Reidy, the president and CEO of Simon & Schuster.
E-book publishing is now “integrated at every level in publishing.”
Reidy also hailed the “staggering amount of information available” in the form of metadata and social media feedback to drive sales and marketing, and she insisted that “our data says that our pricing is effective” in the context of the Big Five’s push to drive up e-book prices.
Some pundits are already using Reidy’s comments to dismiss Amazon Kindle Unlimited and the subscription model. But what didn’t get discussed is the whole debate over whether the Big Five’s new pricing agreements with Amazon have pushed down e-book sales. Many conclude that they have. Certainly, according to the WSJ, S&S’s e-book numbers are down. Also, those falling sales are based on the publishers’ own receipts, not overall sales volume in the market.
The triumphalist braying of commentators like Alexandra Alter in the NYT, also quoting BISG feedback, likewise missed that point, as has been widely remarked. (And incidentally, doesn’t Reidy’s keynoting at the BISG annual meeting somewhat call into question its independent stance as “a nonprofit research group”? Just asking …)
Still, judging by Reidy’s own comments, the Big Five seem perfectly comfortable with the situation they’ve created. Perhaps they prefer lower e-book sales in a market where they have control over pricing – less upsetting of apple carts that way, after all. Amazon and the self-publishing crowd can continue to grow in the meantime, so long as the giants keep their lock over certain major publishing brands and the revenue from subsidiary rights. All very good for Big Publishing. Let’s face it: the big houses have shown pretty broad indifference to the well-being of the wider book market, authors, literature, and just about everything else they’re supposed to be in business to defend.
Related: A comment to PW from Ed Renehan, marketing director at New Street Communications: “I remember being 1st person ever to show Carolyn Reidy an eBook – made myself using the old VOYAGER toolkit on a Powerbook, at the 1992 ABA convention. She didn’t think the concept would go anywhere. Who called it Carolyn?”
(Image via C-SPAN.)