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Old 10-29-2007, 03:13 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Penguin: Publishers need the e-book to survive

News come flowing in into our tattle box, this time about the British Telegraph devoting a short editorial on how leading publishers are increasingly turning towards e-books -- because they have to.

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Jeff Gomez, the senior director for online consumer sales and marketing for the Penguin Group in the US, said that publishers had to embrace electronic books if they wanted to survive in the 21st century. "Offering electronic editions for free won't cannibalise the sale of print copies, but will instead give potential consumers an appetite for a book they might have not heard of before," he said.

"Far from causing the book industry's downfall, free access to electronic versions of novels has the potential to be its saviour. And to publishers, struggling for relevance in a digital age, that should be music to their ears."
Thanks to Jorgen for the tip!

Related: E-books might be next step in evolution, says S&P research
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Old 10-29-2007, 03:16 PM   #2
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Old 10-29-2007, 03:44 PM   #3
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Interesting comment:

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But the vast majority said they would prefer to read it on their laptop rather than a device specially designed for ebooks.
I have to wonder if they are generalizing about any device other than a dedicated one, or if they really mean people would rather read on a laptop than on a PDA or smartphone, etc.

As to another comment:

Quote:
"Can you imagine someone giving an ebook for Christmas?"
Why not? People give Starbucks cards for Christmas!
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Old 10-29-2007, 04:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
As to another comment:

"Can you imagine someone giving an ebook for Christmas?"

Why not? People give Starbucks cards for Christmas!
Another opportunity for Sony to make money.
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Old 10-30-2007, 09:55 AM   #5
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Maybe free software is not the best way forward?

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Originally Posted by slayda View Post
Another opportunity for Sony to make money.
That Penguin gives away ebooks, considering what Penguin has to offer is great news, but is it really where things should go?

I suspect they are right, ebooks at this stage will probably promote paper book sales. But that will not be the case in the distant future (or midrange).

I would rather have a system of micro-cash, where ebooks are brought for very small amounts.

The point being that authors, translators, coders and publishers should get something for their labour, and as the potential market size is in the millions this could mean a healthy income, for books that sell for 50 cents or less.

Compared to print the costs are much less, stocks do not have to be stored or remainders disposed. It should, over time, be commercially viable to produce ebooks at a very low price electronically, which would be a great thing for all of us.

But only if some form of micro-cash is in use beforehand, otherwise we would see the absurdity of some ebooks being priced close to paper books, when the costs of publication of the former is trivial.

Instead of being free, being nearly free would kick start things, but what is needed is a simple and secure way of sending transactions as little as 0.001 of a cent.

An old Penguin (there are some great old Penguins long out of print), for 5-10 cents would not take long to pay for the scanning and markup costs, and maybe even turn a little profit - that way there is an incentive to keep producing ebooks, especially of out of print works.

Ebooks should aim to make available a new Alexandrian library, where any person can for a few dollars have a huge corpus at their fingertips. For that there needs to be an underlying economy.

Sorry this probably the wrong thread to bring this up, I am new to the forum.

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Old 10-30-2007, 10:33 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GregS View Post
Sorry this probably the wrong thread to bring this up, I am new to the forum.
Not really... the points you've mentioned have been discussed all over this forum! And largely, those here agree with you. Who knows, however, when some sort of "micropayment" system will come about? In the meantime, simply pricing books at a lower cost appropriate to digital files would suffice.

Two things to think about, regarding cost: Firstly, just because it's cheap, doesn't mean more people will buy. My books, for instance, are priced significantly lower than other e-books, but that doesn't mean word about me has been spreading like wildfire throughout the web (trust me, it hasn't), and that I've been getting sales to rival Amazon (trust me, I haven't!). It's a big web-based market, but spreading the word to all those people is difficult, and usually costly.

Secondly, a fair payment in one area can still be exhorbitant in another. Although in the U.S., book prices are (generally) considered on the high side of reasonable, in other parts of the world, the cost of a book could be a day's salary, even a week's salary. You are challenged to price something to get the maximum of profit, but that can be hard to determine in a global market. Will I make more money by cutting my price to a tenth, and thereby get more foreign purchases? Will there be enough foreign purchases to make that work? It's tough to determine.

This is one of the reasons why publishers have it so tough: The market has changed to digital, and they waited too long to deal with the many variables involved with global web-based selling; now they're caught with their pants down, and trying to figure out how to recover (or whether to give up the market and retire).
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Old 10-30-2007, 10:33 AM   #7
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Those are good thoughts Greg. It would be a pretty optimal solution if we had a wide audience buying many ebooks and low priced non-DRMd editions available for almost every book written. Even if the most recent and popular ebooks always commanded a more premium price.

As far as readers preferring a laptop to a dedicated device, I think it's two-fold:
1) People don't want to be forced to buy and carry and learn a new device unless they are sold on the benefit and ease of use.
2) People say they prefer to read on a laptop because of what I'll call the "magazine e-edition problem". Specifically, remembering that I am a huge e-book fan, what would I say when I fill out the subscription form of a trade magazine for a free courtesy subscription? Even if I really prefer the electronic edition, my answer to the question is that I want paper. The reason is that I don't know what form the electronic edition will be in. It might require a proprietary reader to be installed on my laptop. It might just be more headaches than it's worth. So even if I'd love a pdf version of the magazine, my answer has to be "no thanks" to the uncertain e-edition offer.

Same thing with the laptop reading question. There are so many potential headaches and issues that I think people find comfort in sticking with what they know - use their laptop since they already have it with them. Sounds better than spending money and time on a device they don't expect to use much anymore. But make ebook devices familiar and give consumers confidence that there are no DRM/format/cost issues, and they might just find that reading the paper and news and books and magazines on a device is their preference (well, on a great device with a large screen anyway). But lets face it, e-book reading devices are expensive and limited right now, and they do come with DRM/format issues.
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Old 10-30-2007, 10:46 AM   #8
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In that vein, you can think of a laptop as a large- or full-scale portable device, affording the same familiar tools as a computer (or PDA), but with a larger screen. If the laptop is portable enough, light enough, and power lasts long enough, I'd gladly take PDF versions of magazines to read on it.

Of course, laptops like that tend to be pricey... and their batteries don't last that long. Maybe the UMPCs will save us.
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Old 10-30-2007, 11:22 AM   #9
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I have a laptop and would not read on it. I cant hold it in one hand while lying in bed. Its not just that though. I use computers a great deal and am very proficient in photoshop but I don't really like them. No attachment at all, they are just tools. My reader on the other hand is my friend.
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Old 10-30-2007, 11:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
Not really... the points you've mentioned have been discussed all over this forum! And largely, those here agree with you. Who knows, however, when some sort of "micropayment" system will come about? In the meantime, simply pricing books at a lower cost appropriate to digital files would suffice.
I am very glad to hear this. The truth is that the technology is the easy bit, getting the capital to set it up is the hard part. Making things secure and anonymous (micro-cash rather than micro-payment) is essential and not technically hard or expensive (as these things go).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
Two things to think about, regarding cost: Firstly, just because it's cheap, doesn't mean more people will buy... It's a big web-based market, but spreading the word to all those people is difficult, and usually costly.
Very true, however, the marketing problem may be resolving itself slowly.

The problem with the internet is its size and chaos. The thing I would pay attention to is what stems from "Second Life" and soon Sony PS Home. Virtual geography holds the promise of the net self-organising itself. Though it will take some time for this to properly evolve.

A virtual marketplace of booksellers, with virtual shops and stalls is in the interests of buyers and sellers alike. Likewise with common interests of all sorts. That has some long term promise. But until then making anything much known on the net is a hit and miss affair, and thereby expensive without much return.

But it is early days yet in this area. Eink, and cheap readers is making things very interesting (I am a school teacher, and in my area there is great promise).

I am not suggesting that people begin slashing prices, rather the reverse, that the free end starts charging a little, almost a nominal sum, and things meet in the middle.

But we get into the same circle re micro-cash. The real problem here is that financial services are just too damn greedy, they want their transaction fees.

There are other ways, but it would need investors willing to sit until the central account becomes big enough to earn decent interest. As that is likely to take five years or more, not many investors are willing to wait that long for dividends. A pity, a case of greed being fatal to much needed innovation.

Thanks for the reply, and this seems a great forum for my interests.

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Old 10-30-2007, 11:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMartin View Post
I use computers a great deal and am very proficient in photoshop but I don't really like them. No attachment at all, they are just tools. My reader on the other hand is my friend.
I enjoy reading on my PDA, but it's still just a tool for me. If a tool works, it's great. If not, maybe you need a better tool.

Maybe if your laptop was as good a tool as your reader apparently is, it would also be your friend.

Anyway, I wouldn't try it with my present laptop, either. I'd have to upgrade to something much better suited to lightweight, long-life use... maybe a UMPC, maybe a tablet, who knows at this point. Presently, I'm not looking... but if more magazines put out digital subscriptions (even PDFs), I'll start looking!
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:16 PM   #12
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If you first give out free ebooks, and people actually get their own ereader. You will have more chance of selling ebooks later.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:22 PM   #13
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If you first give out free ebooks, and people actually get their own ereader. You will have more chance of selling ebooks later.
Unless these ebooks are in eReader format, they won't get eReader as eReader won't read them. eReader is the name of the format/program used to read eReader format ebooks. when you incorrectly use the term eReader, you confuse people into thinking that's the format these books will be in.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:43 PM   #14
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If you first give out free ebooks, and people actually get their own ereader. You will have more chance of selling ebooks later.
Baen has the free book thing right for the most part. Example: When I first wanted to try out David Weber's Honor Harrington series I was able to try the first 2 in the series for free & ended up buying those two & all the rest, including anthologies. I bought the dead tree editions as I had only a PDA as a reader at the time & that's never been an ideal reader for me. Now, I'm sure everyone who might try the series may not like it but maybe that's made up for in more people willing to try it out (since the first 2 are free) & end up liking it.

Free ebooks are similar to when publishers sell pb's of early books in a series for $4 instead of $8 to generate sales of the later books.

Last edited by AnemicOak; 10-30-2007 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Unless these ebooks are in eReader format, they won't get eReader as eReader won't read them. eReader is the name of the format/program used to read eReader format ebooks. when you incorrectly use the term eReader, you confuse people into thinking that's the format these books will be in.
Whoa, deja-vu... I'd swear I've been in this thread before...

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The problem with the internet is its size and chaos. The thing I would pay attention to is what stems from "Second Life" and soon Sony PS Home. Virtual geography holds the promise of the net self-organising itself. Though it will take some time for this to properly evolve.
The virtual worlds may make it easier to transcend geographical boundaries, but you still have the same problem of how to get more people overall to see your product, AND check it out and buy it.

Last edited by Steven Lyle Jordan; 10-31-2007 at 12:40 PM.
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