can we get a hall monitor here?
December 16, 2009
in a move to take back the power from Amazon and Walmart and juvenile pricing wars (it does feel a bit schoolyard), publishers are joining together and delaying the release of ebooks. this delay will supposedly preserve the sale of hardbacks* in the event that retailers (read Amazon) will continue to sell ebooks for $9.99, giving consumers no choice but to purchase the ebook rather than the hardback (presuming that said consumer owns a proprietary Kindle and would’ve bought the hardback in the first place).
Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, and now Macmillan are all on board with delaying ebooks, mostly where bestsellers and leading titles are concerned. says S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy,
The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback. We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new [electronic] readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed base of e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible.
in an equally nonsensical statement, HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray said of the delay (anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months) in publishing,
We’re going to experiment with this. Each new e-book represents a potential new marketing opportunity at a time when we need every possible hook to get consumer attention.
is there some divine timetable that indicates the “right” time for releasing an ebook is between the hardcover and the paperback?! and is that the kind of attention you want from consumers?! ridiculous. please, humor us and call it like it is: you’re trying to maximize your profit.
beginning next year, Macmillan will offer simultaneous “enhanced” ebook releases with author interviews and reading group guides (as if those aren’t already available online…) for a higher price as a hardcover.
to top it all off, the cherry on this idiot sundae, Amazon announced that it is pricing a couple of prepub ebooks at $7.99 including “Going Rogue” and “Under the Dome,” as well as pricing some bestsellers at $7.99 like “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Help.”
sorry readers (ebook and print alike), we’re going to have to sit this one out and wait till the dust settles.
* for a thorough take on ebook sales vs. hardcovers and more (with interesting comments), check out Dear Author’s “Why Ebook Delays Won’t Save Trade Publishing.”
posting by marin who will now try to reign in the sarcasm