Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
This interesting article raises a great point. Are authors and/or publishers too concerned about the digital format for books, treating print as the poor relation nowadays?
Ken Michaels, just appointed President of Hachette Book Group USA, reminded us that 70% of the sales are still print. He said that we need to stop talking about digital as if digital is all there is; that just as media and consumer habits are converging so must the approach publishers take to running their business. He stressed building workflows around content, not product, so you can curate and compose once for all formats, and incorporating digital as a way of life, even in publicity and marketing, rather than having any stand-alone digital workflows. In other words, it is time to integrate digital, not treat it as a thing apart.
In the end, the point isn't digital vs. print. The point is: How can I get the widest distribution. Distribution is readers, distribution is paycheck, distribution is acknowledgement. Currently, digital is distribution. Self publishing has been made easier and cheaper. Digital has made mass distribution as simple as copy and paste. Paper isn't going away, and I don't know a single author that doesn't love to hold their book in print, but when we're talking "Marketing Strategy 2012" we're talking fast, easy, and to the masses.
Print isn't dead, its just slower. But just because I bought a car doesn't mean I stopped loving my bicycle.
Perhaps some of the underlying fears that the large houses and their senior staff are facing is not so much the print vs digital medium, but the fact that so many new, potential hit authors are taking the self-publishing route, leaving those houses to ambulance chase after the best of them. Not only that, but when there is such a gulf in the prices between print and digital, not to mention the price chasm between big six digital and self-pub, what store do you think the readers are going to visit?
Have you seen the recent digital price of J.K. Rowling's new book, A Casual Vacancy? I think it's about 17.95.
Here is an article about print verses digital that you might find interesting. Basically it says print has peaked and digital is the coming tsunami.
Matthew is right is all about distribution, how to have the author and reader meet. Setting up singles sites for readers?
When the return of profits for new authors is about 2-3% only it is hard to see why anyone would go to a traditional publisher when the digital age and internet is upon us. JK Rowling has about 15% return of the profits, though I am not privy to her contracts that is what I was told by someone senior in Bloomsbury. It just seems peculiar to me for such a successful industry to be so unbalanced.
As for excessive ebook prices, I can only think its to encourage people to buy the books, surely 17.95 must come down... But then economics is driven by supply and demand. If the demand is there then, are they right to charge the higher prices?
Great article. The growth in U.K. sales, as well as the U.S., I assume, can be attributed to the 50 Shades penom and all related titles in that genre. Interesting that they predict that print has peaked. Heck, I thought it's been on a gradual down-slide.
My small trades presses have listed me below $5.00, which is in direct competition to other small trades that are listing debut digital e-books at close to $10.00. I'm glad for that. My trade prices are in line with most of the self-pubbed prices out there.
Visit The Casual Vacancy Amazon page and note the arguments and negative comments about such a high price, even for an A-list author. I think this is an exception, though.
I take that back. I just noticed my SF e-book price went to $10.00. I now know this is a result of my publisher purchasing e-book gift cards, hence his need to price higher. Gak. I'll never move at that price!