Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Book Price Wars and Sustainable Ebook Publishing

What is happening to the price of new hardcover books? ... While just about everything else these days is going up, book prices from the major book retailers are plummeting downward.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Michael Pastore.

And why not? ... These booksellers are offering the same product. Why buy from store A, when store B can give it to you cheaper?

It all points to chaos in the publishing industry, and the fact that publishers have given control of the prices to the online booksellers. I say that these prices should be set by the publishers; and that the profit of online booksellers should be smaller; and that authors should receive much more for each book sold.
Copyright (c) 2009 by Michael Pastore.
And what about ebooks? ... Ebooks, if managed smartly, could renew the entire publishing industry. Yet most publishers are treating ebooks as an enfant terrible. Some publishers are delaying the release of the ebooks; others are pricing them the same as the paper books.

How could epublishing be done smarter, with more benefits to book buyers and more profit for publishers? ... P.R.E.S.S.:

1. Provide ebooks with no-DRM restrictions.
2. Release the ebooks first.
3. Enhance ebooks with features not included in the paper versions of the book.
4. Sell ebooks at a lower price than their paper brothers and sisters.
5. Save the art of reading, by teaching the personal benefits and cultural value of good books.

I have called this approach "Sustainable Ebook Publishing."

The biggest publishers, by focusing on profit only and by ignoring the potential of ebooks, have discovered a proven formula for losing readers and losing money.

Dorothy Parker became famous for her motto: "What fresh hell is this?" ... Shakespeare's Puck (pictured right), in A Midsummer Night's Dream sang a lighter-hearted view of human folly:

"Shall we their fond pageant see?
  Lord,what fools these mortals be!"

— Michael Pastore, author:

  • At A Picnic in Italy, I Found Rome-Ants

  • The Ithaca Manual of Style

  • 50 Benefits of Ebooks