Tag Archives: London Book Fair

How Much is that E-book in the Window?

Well the first debate seems to be whether or not one includes a ndash in the product name or not…

Personally, I find it sexier with, but there’s also a cute and sassy appeal to the without look. But, seeing as how I haven’t yet conducted any control group researching, I’ll leave that discussion to the general population.

NOW to address other concerns: How do publishers work with e-books and not sacrifice their prices, or forfeit their “control” over piracy?

Happy to say that publishers sat down this past week at the London Book Fair to discuss just this. To credit them, they have fully accepted the necessity to embrace the ebook and learn how to profit from it. And as its a common topic in the industry, their concerns are valid: look at what piracy has done to the music and movie industries. Once the tangible product becomes digital, all bets are off.

So here are the sides. Take your pick, or give me another option to consider.

Pro-Publisher: Sell e-books at the exact same price they are sold for in their current form, and find a way to police illegal distribution of their material. This is an understandable argument. As PW reported, there is the belief that “publishers are “short-changing authors” if they don’t price e-books the same as physical books.” And lets not forget that even without the killing of trees and over-seas shipping costs, there is still a large staff to pay at the end of a publication (publisher, editor, marketer, publicist, art design, seller, finance, legal, agent, author, etc.). And as for piracy, well, we all know it’s technically wrong (what with it being illegal and all). So lets not dwell on that yet…

Pro-Consumer/User: Not to say that the publisher isn’t concerned for the readers, but they are trying to run a business. So what is there to say for the audience? Well, do we or do we not buy these digital contraptions to make life easier, and to save money by online purchases (see iTunes and/or Netflix)? So shelling out a few hundred for an e-book reader seems like a good idea…until suddenly the consumer is paying $25 for a new release that didn’t kill the homes of millions of woodland creatures or take multiple gallons of bankrupting ink-jets. Production costs cannot be that high. And as far as piracy goes, face the facts: if its online, its fair game. Maybe not legally, but try and explain that to the average user. Also, there is the argument that allowing some piracy actually promotes a product and encourages users to purchase the legalized content (again, see iTunes).

So what’s the solution? Sorry to say, but it’s still pretty unclear. As pointed out by the Guardian (who also covered the book fair), while publishers are still unsure of any solution, “readers are doomed to be confused for the foreseeable future.”

For some older articles and blogs discussing these concerns, check out the Huffington Post, the NYTimes, Boing Boing (really old), Techdirt, and NYTimes blog Freakonomics.

And finally, a bit of irony, brought to you by Mr. Walt Disney: There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates‘ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main.



Filed under Digital & Mobile