• 31 Jan 2010 /  News, Opinion, Rants

    DRM'ed BookRecently several authors, including people like Cory Doctorow and J.C. Hutchins have reported that Amazon.com has gone to war with Macmillan Books, pulling their entire library off its virtual shelves. The New York Times reports that the reason behind this “ban” is a dispute over pricing of eBooks. The story is that Macmillan wants Amazon to increase the base price for eBooks to $15 US, up from $10 US and in response Amazon has stopped selling Macmillan’s products.

    Has Amazon Gone Too Far?

    Herein lies the problem with allowing Amazon to become so powerful as to dictate to publishers what they will be charging for the items that they’re selling. For years publishers have been telling authors just how much they would be selling the author’s works for and now the tables are turned. The average cost for a first-run hardcover book is approximately $30 US, or about $38 CAN if you live in Canada like I do. Authors receive royalties based on the selling price of the book, so a lower cover price means less money for the authors. Publishers never seemed to have a problem with giving authors less money for their books—the average selling price for a hardcover book these days runs around $20 US despite the $30 cover price. People just don’t seem interested in buying books at the current cover price so publishers are constantly dropping that price in order to get more books off the shelves which means that authors are getting less and less money back in royalties. For years books have been perceived as “disposable” by many people which is a huge problem in itself. Now that Apple has released it’s new “larger iPod Touch” (ie: the iPad), there are more options for publishers besides Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Nobles Nook.

    Amazon has thrown down the gauntlet and said, “We will sell your books on our terms or we will not sell your books at all.”

    Publishers Not Without Fault

    Publishers print thousands of copies of their books knowing that they will never be sold because it’s almost as cheap to print 75,000 copies as it is to print 50,000 copies—once the book is on the press and running, it really doesn’t take much more effort to print more copies. However all of these extra copies must also be transported and stored, and the paper doesn’t come cheap either so printing thousands of extra copies doesn’t really make sense. I’ve also read somewhere that Publishers feel that consumers will buy more books if they see more books on the shelves and that they commonly pulp (destroy/recycle) up to 40% of the books that they’ve printed! An article by the BBC in 2001 suggests that, “300,000 books are shredded in Britain every week.” A more recent article by the UK Daily Mail suggests that, “Publishers are quietly disposing of around 77 million unsold books a year.”

    This is insanity.

    eReading Devices Are Inherently Flawed

    Now back to the problem of eBooks and eReading devices. The main problem with these devices is that most of them rely on DRM and closed operating systems to keep their customer base. This forces the user to purchase a closed device to consume closed content and only the closed content provided by the retailer. In other words, once you start adding to your Kindle or Nook library you are pretty much stuck in buying only the content that Amazon or Barnes & Noble sells because you cannot read this content on another device, you cannot resell it and you cannot lend it to someone else. And, as I’ve said before, you aren’t even purchasing the content that you’re getting, you are RENTING it. This makes the provider happy but it doesn’t do much for the end user.

    Amazon’s End User License Agreement states;

    Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

    Restrictions. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Digital Content. In addition, you may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, bypass, modify, defeat or circumvent security features that protect the Digital Content.

    Which would make you think you own the content you’re purchasing, but while it says you can keep a “permanent copy,” it is a “permanent DRMed copy,” and we’ve already seen that Amazon can, at any time the wish, remove this “permanent copy” from your possession without you even knowing it. Also when someone owns an item, they generally have the right to resell it. Not so with Kindle eBooks.

    A very useful annotated version of the Amazon EULA can be found here.

    It is also common knowledge that Amazon is quietly compiling information on everything you read on your Amazon Kindle.  This includes any websites that you may be scanning via your Kindle, except that up here in Canada the websurfing ability of the Kindle has been locked out with the exception of popping over to Wikipedia because we know that Canada is on another planet and we should not be allowed to surf the web up here. Amazon also knows where you are on the planet when you’re surfing or downloading information to your Kindle by pinpointing you through the 3G mapping feature and Google Maps. So if you’re using your Kindle, Amazon knows. Common sense would also imply that devices such as the Nook and the iPad will also have these tracking features quietly included in their core software.

    An article by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing entitled “EFF’s ebook-buyer’s guide to privacy” states;

    “…your Kindle will periodically send information about you to Amazon. But exactly what information is sent? Amazon’s wording—”information related to the content on your Device and your use of it” —reads so broadly that it appears to allow Amazon to track all content that users put on the device, regardless of whether that content is purchased from Amazon. Some security researchers have indicated that the Kindle may even be tracking its users’ GPS locations. Is this the future of reading?”

    Which begs the question, “Do we have the right to privacy when using our eReading devices?” The answer should obviously be YES… but is this the real answer?

    Some Possible Solutions?

    With the Amazon vs. Macmillan in the news, now is the time for other publishers to step forward to say, “Yeah! We want more money for our products!” Amazon can’t pull them all off their shelves otherwise they won’t have any products left to sell.

    Secondly, Publishers need to rethink how they sell and publish books. Consumers enjoy the immediacy of an eBook but do not want the draconian DRM measures that come with a book in electronic format. You need to find another way to provide this content without DRM. You also need to look at new ways of providing physical books to the consumer—Most consumers only want to read the book, they don’t care if it’s a hardcover, trade, or mass market paperback. You should be providing them with choices from the get-go. Printing up 75,000 hardcover books in order to sell 25,000, sell off 10,000 as remainders and pulp the other 40,000 is just stupid and insanely wasteful. You need to start offering the consumer choices of format—Bibliophiles will be happy to pay $25 for a hardcover version of your publication which most other people would probably rather have a trade version or a paperback version. Sure you will end up selling books at a lower price, but you will sell MORE books in the end.

    You also need to start providing the consumer with an electronic copy of the book when they purchase the premium version (hardcover/trade) of the book. When the Apple iPod first came out, people could take ANY CD, pop it into their computer and put it onto their iPod, this is what we need from publishers for eBooks. Providing a CD with each book may not be cost effective, but you could certainly provide a PIN number in each book and allow users to log onto a website to download the electronic copy onto an eReading device of their choice.

    Finally eReading devices need to be as universal as iPods, but cheaper. If you want people to use your device then it needs to be open, and it needs to cost between $100 and $150. We also want the right to privacy and the expectation of not being tracked and scrutinized while we use the device that we’ve purchased. Retailers have no right to invade the consumer’s privacy by tracking their reading and surfing habits. It’s only a matter of time before a lawsuit pops up because of this.

    Purchasing a current eReading device is like purchasing an automobile that will only run on a specific kind of fuel that is provided only by the car manufacturer. For the consumer to buy into this is just plain stupidity and shortsightedness, but then that’s what retailers like Amazon are relying on. It’s about time that we, as consumers, start speaking with our wallets and stop being stupid because of the sheer convenience of immediacy.

    Use your head for more than a hat rack, people!

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  • 09 Feb 2009 /  Opinion

    amazonkindle

    Same Product, Different Face

    Amazon releases the Kindle Version 2 today, ho hum. This is a perfect example of a product designed by a Marketer who has no idea of what the public wants, but they know exactly what they want to sell. Doesn’t matter what the consumer wants, just look at the benefits of locking the consumer into your store with a device that reads only your DRMed media content. What else could a marketing exec ask for? The Kindle version 2.0 offers nothing new worth having.

    The Kindle’s New “Features”

    New specs include; A thinner unit, 10.2 ounces (instead of the old 10.3 oz, wow!), a screen with 16 shades of grey (instead of the old 4) at a resolution of 600 x 800 at 167 ppi (pixels per inch), 25% longer battery life, more storage space, a 20% faster page refresh, and a text-to-speech option using a computerized voice. Formats supported; Kindle (AZW), TXT, MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

    What’s Missing?

    What it still has that it doesn’t need; A butt-ugly chicklet keyboard, Sprint 3G “Whispernet” access which bloats the price, text-to-speech (do we REALLY need this?), a proprietary DRMed format (AZW) so that you cannot trade your ephemeral products with your friends or read them on other devices.

    What it still doesn’t have; A reasonable price, an SD card slot (why would you remove the most useful feature?), a touch screen, a use outside the US of A, support for Word and Excel files, and a colour other than white.

    One of the new features includes something called “Whispersync,” which allows you to switch between devices while you’re reading a book and pick up where you left off. This implies that you were stupid enough to buy multiple units. “No computer needed,” so why do you need to charge it via a USB cable? Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Also, I thought one of Amazon’s selling points was the fact that your library is all online, so why do I need more storage if everything is online?

    Target Demographic

    The Kindle continues to be targeted at business-type people who think it might be a “good idea” to be able to read their Financial Times or a book while traveling, but they are much too sophisticated to be seen carrying a newspaper or a book, the techno-geek who wants all the newest gadgets no matter the price, and the blogging media. People who actually want to read books wouldn’t want this product, at least not at this price. Sadly, people will still buy this product and wave the Amazon flag while yelling, “Hey! Look at me! I’m a geek on the cutting edge!” Sad really.

    —–

    plasticlogic1

    The Other Side of the Coin

    On the other side we have a company called Plastic Logic that actually appears to understand what people want in an eReader. Here’s a product that’s due out in 2010 with an 8.5 by 11 inch form-factor aimed squarely at the business consumer. We can only hope that Plastic Logic will look at the mistakes that Amazon is making now and not follow them in the future. One can only hope that they will take this same technology and apply it to a smaller, paperback-sized device aimed at bibliophiles like me.

    What’s Offered?

    For specifics on the device, you should go to the Plastic Logic’s website and have a read.

    The short list is as follows:

    • Less than 7mm (about 1/4 inch) thick
    • Weight less than 16 oz
    • form factor, as mentioned, is 8.5″ x 11” (or a full letter-sized page)
    • battery life measured in days not hours
    • support for a wide range of document types including PDF, Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint, and others
    • E Ink Active Matrix Display
    • A touchscreen interface
    • Tools for acquiring, organizing and managing information
    • Wireless and wired access to content

    It also states that the device uses a “version of Win CE from Microsoft, but the features of the operating system are not directly visible to the user” and it “will support digital rights managed content,” which should keep the marketing grubs happy. One can only assume that DRMed content will be only one of the many formats offered and that it will support a wide variety of other non-DRM content. Since the unit will support native PDFs, there will be all sorts of copyright free content available from Google books. There will also be supporting software that runs on Windows and the Mac, which makes one assume that it will be easier to download and organize content. There is no specific mention of support for an SD card, but the hi res image of the device offered on the website implies that there is a port for them. As well, they hint at a colour screen for future devices.

    Also there is no mention of an estimated street price for this unit (to be announced in 2010), but one hopes that Plastic Logic is keeping their eye on what Amazon is doing and realizes that the average book reader will not pay that sort of money for the technology when they can get something ultimately more useful, like a Netbook, for the same price. If they found themselves in the $100-$150 range for a trade paperback-sized (5″ by 7″) version and around $200-$250 for a full letter-sized version, I think they’d be in the ballpark.

    So here’s a vastly superior device with a touch screen giving you the ability to do markup right on top of your document and use gestures to flip pages and type on an actual on-screen keyboard! I have high hopes for this product, hopefully Plastic Logic does not disappoint.

    YouTube Video

    Here’s a short product demo video from Plastic Logic.

    Image credits; Amazon Kindle from John Pastor on Flickr. Plastic Logic eReader from the Plastic Logic website.

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  • 31 Jan 2009 /  Opinion

    eText

    eReaders in the News

    There has been a lot of interest lately in eReaders and electronic books and with the expected release Amazon’s new “Kindle v2.” So I thought, as an avid reader and self-confessed bibliophile, that I would offer my opinions to the world on why the current crop of eReaders will not work. The primary problems right now include the price of the reader unit and the lack of a cross-platform format, but the problems don’t stop there. Publishers also need to rethink the way they market books.

    eReader Contenders

    There are a few different eReader units in the market today, but the top contenders are obviously the Amazon Kindle, the Sony eReader, and to a lesser extent the Hanlin eReader V3 (which was sold under various names depending on what country you were in). A quick look at Wikipedia will also give you the names of other eReader devices—The Digital Reader 1000 and The Iliad by iRex Technology, the Cybook Gen3 by Bookeen, as well as some other lesser-known devices. All of these devices use the same sort of display technology called electronic paper which was designed to mimic the appearance of conventional paper and claims to be less fatiguing for the reader’s eyes.
    Book Holding

    Design Weaknesses

    I believe that the manufacturers of eReading devices need to stop, step back and look at the design of their device before they get too excited about electronic books. For starters, let’s look at how people hold a book—Most readers will hold a book in one hand, generally using their thumb on the spine of the book to hold it open and their fingers to support the book, they’re not going to hold your 7″ by 5″ device in two hands as you see in so many advertisements, it’s just too uncomfortable. So the design of your eReader needs to have two equally-weighted halves to it, possibly even two screens as people (in the Western world) naturally want to read from left to right. A two screen model could also have the advantage of allowing one screen to refresh while the user is reading the other screen, and having the ability of using one screen to perform other functions such as dictionary searches, bookmarking, indexing, etc while the other screen displays the current content the user is reading.

    Another advantage to using two smaller screens instead of one large screen is the price of the screen itself. A larger surface area, especially if you’re using touch screen technology is more expensive than say two smaller surfaces. And while we’re talking sizes of screens, let’s talk about the optimal size for an eReader—think paperback novel. Your average paperback novel is around 7 inches high by 4 inches wide, so if we made our eReader approximately 8 inches high by 5 inches wide and less than half an inch thick, we would probably be around the optimal size for most readers. Now think about this, you have two screens 8 inches by 5 inches, turn the reader 90 degrees and what do you get? You get a screen that has a form factor almost the same as a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. Now you could use your dual screens to display letter-sized PDF documents at 94% of their actual size. So I’m thinking 2 small screens that when sitting flat lock together to form one larger screen with a thin bezel between the halves.

    Alternatively we could keep the single-screen tablet-type model. It would be cheaper than a double-screen, and you would want to keep that golden 5″ by 8″ screen size. But we also need to keep in mind how we want to hold this device. It should be the same thickness throughout, not thicker on one side as the Kindle is. If anything, it should be thinner near the bottom edge and thicker near the top edge so that when it’s sitting flat on a tabletop it angles slightly toward the viewer. Also there should be a bit of a groove down the left and right sides along the back so that when the user is gripping it the fingertips have some place to grab on to.

    Also, what is it with the klutzy chicklet keyboard on the Kindle? We have cheap touch screen technology these days, why do we want an ugly push-button keyboard cluttering up our eReader? Let’s take a page out of the book of Apple and get ourselves an on-screen keyboard in this thing. And while I’m on the topic of the Amazon Kindle, let’s lose the proprietary “Whispernet” connectivity that only works in the USA, there’s a whole planet outside the borders of the USA people! This wireless connectivity is just adding a huge unwanted cost to the base units. Nor do these units need to have the ability to play MP3s. Sure, it’s a nice bonus to be able to listen to music while you’re reading but all you’re doing is sucking power from the battery when you could be using a smaller battery and lowering the cost again. We have MP3 players, we don’t need them in our eReaders.

    What are you selling anyway? You’re selling an electronic book reading device. You’re not selling a portable web-browsing device, we already have those and they do a much better job of it. If you want to actually get your eReader device to the masses, you need to drop the price way down and lose all of these restrictive and useless “features” that you think you’re adding. This device needs to cost somewhere between $100 and $150. Personally, I would not pay what Amazon is asking for the Kindle—$359 for an eReading device is far too high, even if it did work in Canada, which is does not. The Sony eReader device is a bit cheaper at $250 for the lower end model, $400 for the higher end model. And the iRex iLiad runs as high as $600.

    Media and Accessibility

    Now let’s talk file types; We need an ebook format that will work across all types of readers and on computer screens. Nevermind your DRM crap, we already know that the DRM model does not work. Why must you keep beating a dead horse? These readers should also support, but not be limited to supporing; Plain text files, rich text files, Excel files, Word files, PDF files, ePub files, HTML, XML, JPEG, (static) GIFs, BMP and PNGs. In short, I should be able to plug an SD card into this device and read any sort of document that I want to. Of course this device will have an SD card port, and a mini USB port so that you can sync up your eReader to your computer. Your computer is the device you should be using to download new media, not your eReader.

    I also need to make a comment about the media, or the actual eBooks themselves that publishers who want to sell books to the public should know—I will not purchase ephemeral products. In other words, you will not be able to sell me MP3s, downloaded software, or downloaded eBooks. I will not pay $10 for a book that does not exist outside of the ether. When I spend $10, I want a physical object in my hand that I can read, save, put on a shelf or pass on to someone else to read. I am not going to spend my hard-earned money on data that is here today and might be gone somewhere else tomorrow. If you want to sell me an eBook then you need to take that data and put it on to something that I can physically possess. You can’t take a packet of data and put it up on a shelf to save for a future generation, nor does data appreciate in value as time goes on. I am a bibliophile, I have shelves full of books that I can touch and appreciate at any time that I want to, I don’t have to rely on an over-priced electronic device in order to access the words they contain. I can take one of those books off my shelf and pass it on to a friend any time I want to without having to worry about some stupid publisher’s DRM system getting in my face.

    Want to Sell More Books?

    Here’s what to do; publish your book as a trade paperback, then take the text of that book and put it on an SD card or a mini CD and then include that card or CD in the back of your trade paperback so that people with electronic reading devices can read your book on their eReader. Want to sell your books at the airport? No problem, sell the customer a pre-loaded SD card the same way you sell audio books on CD. Then they can pop that SD card into their eReader and read your book anywhere they are.

    Make your book accessible to the devices that people want to use to read them and lose this proprietary data nonsense. Get your books out there to the public by offering free preview chapters in eBook or PDF format and the readers will come. Get your books out there by offering free audio podcasts. You’ll sell a heck of a lot more books if you make your media accessible to the masses in more appetizing forms. Stop telling people how you want them to consume your product and listen to how they want to consume it.

    Want to Sell eReaders?

    Lose the stuff that doesn’t need to be there. You’re selling an electonic book reader, you’re not selling an iPod Touch. Electronic paper does not have the refresh rate or colour depth to make it an effective wireless media device. It was designed to display static type, use it for that.

    I am not going to spend $400 on a device that is “something” like an iPod touch when I already have a much superior device in the market, nor am I going to spend that sort of money on a device that can connect to the Internet when I can buy myself a Netbook for the same price and have 20 times the functionality that the eReader has.

    So if you want to sell more eReaders, stop trying to make a device that does everything and just make a simple electronic book that works!

    Images from the stock.xchng

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  • 01 Jan 2009 /  Opinion

    Books and Window from sxc.hu

    Is Reading a Lost Art?

    The other day I was having a discussion with some people about how reading was becoming a lost art, and how publishers could sell more books to more people. This also led to a discussion about hardcover books vs trade paperbacks vs mass market paperbacks and the amount of resources each format uses, which in turn led me to thinking about things like eBooks and eBook readers. Book publishers are finding it more and more difficult to sell old-fashioned dead-tree books in today’s world.

    “But Herne,” you think, “I’m reading right now.”

    Well, yes, you are reading, but are you thinking as you read? Chances are you aren’t thinking about a whole lot as you read. Our current level of technology has taken a lot of that cumbersome thinking stuff out of our hands. For the most part, most of us use very little of our brain’s power or imagination in day-to-day life, we certainly use less of our imagination than we used to anyway. With our level of technology and the Internet, we don’t need to imagine what we’re reading about, the Internet provides us with convenient pictures and narratives to tell us what we’re thinking. So is the Internet and technology making us more stupid?

    No, the Internet and technology is not making us as humans more stupid, but it is making us more lazy.

    Book Formats

    But back to the discussion at hand—Publishers want to sell more books, how do they do this? First of all, let’s briefly take a look at the different book formats; Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Mass Market Paperback, Audio Books, eBooks, PDFs, and Podcasts (Podiobooks).

    Hardcover books: Pros—Durability, better paper therefore longer life, higher markup for publishers. Cons—Higher costs, more (paper) resources used, larger format means the product is heavier, less portable, and therefore more costly to ship.

    Trade Paperbacks: Pros—Durable though not as durable as hardcovers, often better paper used therefore longer life, price markup for publishers decent, lighter than hardcovers so shipping costs are lower. Cons-Still cost more than mass market paperbacks, resource use still fairly high, larger size means less portable than mass market paperbacks.

    Mass Market Paperbacks: Pros—Cheaper for consumer, small format means several can be shipped for the cost of one hardcover, fewer resources (less paper) used to create them. Cons—Lower price point means less money for the publisher (and author), less durable, cheaper paper used.

    Audiobooks: Pros—Often more palatable to the consumer because they don’t actually have to read the book themselves, more portable. Cons—Production requires the use of voice artists or readers, which increases production costs, not to mention the costs of getting the audio files to an audio medium so that the consumer can purchase it.

    eBooks, PDFs, and Podcasts: Pros—Very few resources used to produce the content, self-publishing is a breeze. Cons-Harder to control the distribution and copyright, also requires some sort of technical device (eReader, computer, MP3 Player) to consume the content.

    The Secret to Selling Books

    So you want to know how to sell more books? Well, let me give you my opinion, one simple bibliophile’s opinion on how to sell more books. I purchase and read a LOT of books per year, and you know what entices me to buy more books? Content and pricing.

    “Well duh!” You say, “Of course content and pricing is going to influence how many books people buy!”

    Well here’s the thing… You want to sell more books and I want to buy those books, but I am not going to purchase a “fluff” fiction book for the same amount of money that I would spend on something like a technical computer book or a high quality photography or art book. So here’s the secret to selling more books: Give the consumer what they want for the price they want to pay! Duh!

    I am more than willing to spend $30, $40, $50 for technical books on computers, or guides for software, or for instructional books on photography, but I am not willing to spend that sort of money on the next “New York Times Bestseller” or some other kind of frivolity that is here today and forgotten tomorrow. I’m also smart enough to know that publishers spend a fair amount of money to get their products on these lists, so I’m not falling for that old gag. So how about we sell books at prices that people want to pay? Whoa! Simple concept! Publishers don’t seem to grasp it, though.

    Publishers historically release new titles to the market in hardcover at the highest price point and hope that they’ve generated enough interest in (or spent enough money on) their product that people will be willing to shell out around $35 (on average) to purchase this product. Yes, books will sell at this price because there are always people who are willing to purchase first run hardcover books; libraries, institutions, people who follow “best seller” lists without thinking, etc. So publishers will spend a bunch of advertising revenue to get their new books on the “best seller” lists and sell 20 or 25-thousand copies of the book at this price and about 6 months later they’ll often come out with the trade paperback version of the title. Many of the people who wanted the book when they first saw it come out in hardcover will now look at the trade paperback, now at around $20 (on average) and think maybe they should buy it now. So the publishers will sell another 25 thousand copies or so of the trade paperback. Then, finally, after about a year after the book first appeared on the shelf as a hardcover the publisher will produce the mass market paperback edition of the book, now priced around $10 (on average) hoping to persuade the hold out readers to purchase their product. This would traditionally also be the time to introduce the next hardcover book in the series, assuming that the first edition did well enough to warrant a second edition.

    This “traditional” schedule of publishing worked well in the past, but consumers have come a long way in the last 10 or 15 years. Now we have the Internet and electronic devices and we want instant gratification for everything! If you’re waiting a year to get your book into the hands of Joe-average consumer, then you are losing sales hand-over-fist. Publishers need to wake up now, take a hard look at what’s happening on the Internet and in the “new media” environment that is so commonplace today if they want to keep selling books in the future.

    As I said, I am a bibliophile—a book fanatic—and I’m not going to wait a year to purchase your book. If I’ve seen your hardcover book and it seems interesting to me I might make note of it to look it up later or purchase it secondhand but I am not going to shell out $35 for your average fiction book, and chances are I’m not even going to remember your publication when you’ve decided to publish it as a mass market paperback a year later.

    If you want to sell more books then you need to produce more titles in more formats so that people who wish to purchase them can do so more easily. Sure, you can certainly continue to produce books in hardcover format because there will still be those people willing to pay more for this perception of a “better” product, but most people like myself who consume a lot of content are smart enough to realize that “premium” does not always mean “better.”

    You need to start offering your products simultaneously rather than consecutively. I would much rather see the hardcover and trade paperback editions released simultaneously followed shortly, say within three months, by the release of the mass market paperback edition. I think you would sell a lot more books if you gave the consumer what they want to consume rather than making them wait for it.

    Premium Content vs. Premium Pricing

    When I think of “premium content,” I think of more content or something special that’s not included with the regular, lower-priced model.

    So how about we add a little carrot to those hardcover sticks we want to sell? How about we start including an eBook version of the book with every hardcover book we sell? Think of how little that might cost versus the large gains you would get back. Most publishers are using a page layout program such as InDesign or QuarkXPress, so it costs them nothing to export a second copy of the postscript file off into a PDF creation program. You take that PDF and you burn it on to a mini CD, and you include that CD with every book! Now we’re talking! Now I might be willing to spend that extra bit of money to purchase your book so that I have the option of reading it on my eBook reader of choice, but I’ll leave that for another blog post.

    In that blog post I want to talk about why eBook readers like the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Digital Reader could be amazing products, but are not making the impact on the market that they could because of the huge price points, the lack of a standard eBook format, and the paranoia called “rights management.”

    Image from the stock.xchng

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