Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Both Sides Now

Last Wednesday and Thursday, I reported on three of the Big Six publishers' decision to delay the release of e-books in order to protect the hardcover release.

Today let's direct you to a few blogs to read very different reactions to the news that Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins are all planning to deliberately hold back the release of the e-books on their best-selling books. And--after that--we'll visit Mike Shatzkin to see what he thinks.

First, here's agent Nat Sobel's defense of the publishers' stance on Richard Curtis' E-Reads blog last Monday:
"I suggest that the electronic versions not be made available for six months after initial publication, eventually being released when the paperback hits the market," Sobel writes. "I’d like to believe that electronic book sales can and should be the mass market of the future."
The following day, Tuesday, Kassia Krozser responded to Nat Sobel's post on her Booksquare blog here:
While you implore publishers and agents to hold back on ebooks, for reasons that make no sense, I implore those same people to think long and hard about where book publishing is going. I can assure you this: publishing is going strong and getting strong. However, publishing as you know it isn’t.
Then yesterday on the Huffington Post here, Matt Stewart had his say in a post titled Hey, Publishers, Screwing Your Best Customers Is A Mistake:
Imagine if airlines gave their biggest frequent flier customers the worst seats on the plane. If iPhone owners had to wait six months to download the latest tunes. If owners of hybrid vehicles had to pay double for insurance . . .

These are all idiotic ideas, certain to ruin relationships with each industry's biggest advocates, devastate the bottom line, and get top-level executives axed. So why do these publishers think they're exceptional?
Finally, Mike Shatzkin weighs in here:
. . . this is really about the agents and publishers trying to take control of ebook pricing, and value perception, back from Amazon . . . the big houses can . . . sell ebooks direct off their own web sites.

what the publishers can do to Amazon today, the authors can do to the publishers tomorrow. If the publishers could sell the ebooks of big books successfully from their sites, then the big authors could also sell them directly without a publisher.
Stay tuned . . .


Colleen said...

I used to be one of those people who thought they'd never get an e-reader but I have completely changed my mind. Manufacturers are coming closer to a traditional book reading experience. Once that is perfected added to the lower cost of books (that I spend a fortune on) and my ability to cart around a great number of books without the heft and I'm in. If someone like me, who was/is entrenched in a love of traditional books and hates spending time at a screen, can come around the publishers had better too or they are sunk. And we don't want them to sink.

Maya Reynolds said...

Thanks, Colleen. Your comment points out just how much the world is changing (and has changed).

I'm beginning to think the Big Six will go the way of the dinosaur . . . meaning they will die off and be replaced by smaller, faster and smarter creatures.