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Old 12-10-2012, 09:14 AM   #1
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Differentiating eBooks

In the printed world we are used to different versions of a book, with different values. Hardbacks being the expensive one, and even they may come in deluxe and more mundane editions, you have mass paperback and trade paperback. I suppose they have evolved over time so publishers can optimize their returns, and nothing wrong with that.

Can you see a similar development taking place within eBooks? Is it possible to create a more differentiated market?
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:27 AM   #2
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I can see things like annotations, extra notes, extra commentary from the author in special editions, maybe extra shorts by the same author if they do that sort of thing. But I've never been a book collector. I read mainly for value. I only bought hardcovers when it's in the we can't get rid of these anymore sale bin. For me it's the story, the rest is pointless and not worth my money.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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A lot of outfits are trying to create "enhanced" ebooks but so far none has really taken.
Theoretically epub3 will *someday* allow the creation of the ebook equivalent of the 90's era Multimedia CD-ROMS which themselves were versions of coffee table books but I wouldn't hold my breath.
The closest equivalent today are the app-based publications and those aren't really ebooks.

The only likely differentiators for the near-term are going to be price and user restrictions (DRM, TTS, lending) and nobody has yet tried to link the two.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:15 PM   #4
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It seems that way this is happening, is the first year or so an ebook is out, the price is tied to the hardback that is also out.

If it goes to a trade book, then the price drops to that level. And again to a mass market book.

No change in content, just how long and how much the pbook is.

Although some ebook prices don't seem to ever drop, or take a LONG time.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kumabjorn View Post

Can you see a similar development taking place within eBooks? Is it possible to create a more differentiated market?
Anything is possible, and I can't predict the future...but I can't really imagine what they would offer that would be a significant qualitative inducement to buy a "better" version. Hardback and trade paperbacks look better on your shelves...but there's no way to address this with e-books. Hardbacks and trade paperbacks have tended to be a little easier to read because of larger type and more whitespace on the page...but e-books take care of this already. I don't think that people would pay more, generally, for fancy fixed fonts; they'd rather be able to change them themselves.

It's important to keep in mind that hardback, trade PB, and PB are general formats that you can apply to *all* books. And I don't see that there is any similar general enhancement you can do to *all* books in the same way. You can offer *specific* enhancements for *specific* books (author interview, etc.), but that can't be generalized to all books in the same way. Some authors are dead. Some authors have written 20 books in a series...are they going to have a different interview for each book?

But most importantly, I don't think that things like author interviews are generally very important to readers, who mostly want to just read the book in question and don't care enough about author interviews to pay and extra, say, $5 for it. But I think enhancements like that are more of a one-off: readers might pay more for an interview by a certain author, but not for an interview from any author.

My penguin copy of Pride and Prejudice from the mid-80's has a 40 page(!) scholarly introduction by Tony Tanner. I might well have been induced to pay more for something like that. But that's pretty uncommon.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:29 PM   #6
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Penguin offer "Enhanced ebook editions" of a number of titles in the "Penguin Classics" range. I have the "Pride and Prejudice" one and it's very well done, with a lot of interesting extra content about the period, social life, even recipes .
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:34 PM   #7
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Penguin offer "Enhanced ebook editions" of a number of titles in the "Penguin Classics" range. I have the "Pride and Prejudice" one and it's very well done, with a lot of interesting extra content about the period, social life, even recipes .
And that is a PD that you can get for free. So I guess there are some avenues to travel forward on.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:51 PM   #8
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To clarify, there's the "standard" Penguin Classics version with the usual introduction, footnotes, etc, and then the enhanced version which has all the additional stuff too.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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Yes, although as noted above, product differentiation will probably hinge on content or special privileges rather than format.

Interestingly, multimedia-rich book apps like Al Gore's Our Choice and various kids' picture books cost much less than plain old eBooks. To that extent, I agree with fjtorres that the app economy is not the best way to make money on premium reading products.

Last edited by holymadness; 12-10-2012 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:34 PM   #10
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To clarify, there's the "standard" Penguin Classics version with the usual introduction, footnotes, etc, and then the enhanced version which has all the additional stuff too.
What interests me is the possibility and as you've shown there are different avenues available. Perhaps they are primarily a niche product right now, but who is to say that won't change in the future?
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:37 PM   #11
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Worst case scenario: eBook DLC.

The "base" novel comes with 13 chapters for $9.99, and you can buy additional chapter packs for $0.99 each to prolong the adventures of your favourite characters!

OR

Purchase the Special Edition for an additional $4.99 and you'll gain access to four exclusive chapters not included in the base novel.

Last edited by holymadness; 12-10-2012 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:38 PM   #12
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I would pay more for multilingual editions, that I can read in any language of my liking. For SOME books, since I am generally a cheapskate.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:36 AM   #13
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Interesting, yes I can see a market for eBooks in a bi-lingual edition where you have two pages visible next to each other so you can follow the translation along the original.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:04 AM   #14
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Interesting, yes I can see a market for eBooks in a bi-lingual edition where you have two pages visible next to each other so you can follow the translation along the original.
Or for combo editions (or bundles) that include the ebook and the audiobook to fit in with Amazon's "immersive reading"; right now you need to buy both separately. And, of course, only Kindle/audible are doing it.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:12 AM   #15
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In the printed world we are used to different versions of a book, with different values. Hardbacks being the expensive one, and even they may come in deluxe and more mundane editions, you have mass paperback and trade paperback. I suppose they have evolved over time so publishers can optimize their returns, and nothing wrong with that.

Can you see a similar development taking place within eBooks? Is it possible to create a more differentiated market?
Yes.



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