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Two Major Publishers To Hold Back E-Books
By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG
Simon & Schuster is delaying by four months the electronic-book editions of about 35 leading titles coming out early next year, taking a dramatic stand against the cut-rate $9.99 pricing of e-book best sellers.
A second publisher, Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group, said it has similar plans in the works.
"The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback," said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS Corp. "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."
The efforts cap a tumultuous year for publishers as the industry begins a migration from traditional truck-and-bookshelf distribution to nearly simultaneous wireless delivery to consumers. It is also an acknowledgment that book pricing has become the most significant issue on the publishing landscape.
E-book readers from Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. have become hot Christmas gifts this year, and a host of new devices are coming in 2010. In addition, many people now read e-books on their iPhones, BlackBerry devices and personal computers.
Jeffrey Trachtenberg discusses the book publishing industry's struggle to find the right pricing and release timetable for e-books versus hard cover titles.
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Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at email@example.com