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Old 11-04-2009, 12:21 AM   #1
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John Grisham speaks out on the future of pbooks and ebooks

Back in February, the Washington Post wrote an article about John Grisham finally going digital. I still haven't seen any in the Kindle store or anywhere else other than the Darknet.

The website for the early morning news program The Today Show posts Grisham's thoughts on the pbook price wars and the growth of ebooks.

Quote:
Paying full price for the books is essential to keep publishers, booksellers and writers in business, Grisham said.

John Grisham’s latest book is his first collection of short stories. All of them are set in Ford County, Mississippi.

“That enables me to make a royalty, the publisher to make a profit and the bookstore to make a profit,” he said. “If a new book is worth $9, we have seriously devalued that book.”
Quote:
And the price war is not the only challenge the publishing industry faces nowadays. E-books sold for the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader have eaten into profits of publishers and booksellers — and Grisham says the future looks bleak.

Regarding reading books electronically, he told Lauer: “If half of us are going to be doing it, then you’re going to wipe out tons of bookstores and publishers and we’re going to buy it all online.
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Old 11-04-2009, 01:32 AM   #2
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he is, of course, right. But they can't stop it. Adapt or die, that is the only choice. Better 9.99 than nothing.
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Old 11-04-2009, 02:09 AM   #3
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He does have an interesting point that I hadn't considered. If half of all book buyers switched from B&M sales to online/electronic sales, and we assume that the other half of the customers will never do this and that the remaining customers will not be sufficient to support those stores, then we could in fact see a short-term collapse of the publishing industry as most of the customers no longer have a market available to them.

Of course, this isn't specific to e-books as online sales create the same issue in every market.

It also ignores that customers have alternatives that also involve books (such purchasing at multi-purpose stores (Target/Walmart) or online). It's a fairly big leap to assume that the loss of bookstores would lead the population away from buying books.

I wonder if this is the primary concern driving B&N's attempt to bring e-book readers back to the stores...
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Old 11-04-2009, 02:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoganK View Post
He does have an interesting point that I hadn't considered. If half of all book buyers switched from B&M sales to online/electronic sales, and we assume that the other half of the customers will never do this and that the remaining customers will not be sufficient to support those stores, then we could in fact see a short-term collapse of the publishing industry as most of the customers no longer have a market available to them.

Of course, this isn't specific to e-books as online sales create the same issue in every market.

It also ignores that customers have alternatives that also involve books (such purchasing at multi-purpose stores (Target/Walmart) or online). It's a fairly big leap to assume that the loss of bookstores would lead the population away from buying books.

I wonder if this is the primary concern driving B&N's attempt to bring e-book readers back to the stores...
But by the same token would we not have seen a similar scenario when digital music was introduced? People are buying single songs or individual albums on iTunes, as well as still going and buying full CD compilations from shops. 99c per song makes a CD worth about $12. Here in Aus the average CD price for new CDs is about $24. I haven't seen any CD stores close down because of digital music.
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Old 11-04-2009, 03:18 AM   #5
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Actually, sales of music on physical media are in a steep decline (like 30% less than just 2-3 years ago). The only area where this is not true is classical music, since the quality of downloads is not good enough. And the same will be happening with movies. Downloads will replace DVD and Blu-Ray rentals and sales. So some industries will close and new opportunities open up. Online stores also need employees. The only question is, who will make the cut and the transition to the new era. A lot of physical bookstores won't.
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Old 11-04-2009, 03:39 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Solicitous View Post
But by the same token would we not have seen a similar scenario when digital music was introduced? People are buying single songs or individual albums on iTunes, as well as still going and buying full CD compilations from shops. 99c per song makes a CD worth about $12. Here in Aus the average CD price for new CDs is about $24. I haven't seen any CD stores close down because of digital music.
Perhaps my perception is a bit off, but it appears that the music stores (both in the US and in Australia) that survived the transition have done so by transitioning to used CD sales (which, ignoring the more complex issues at play, does not benefit the artists or the publishers). While it is still possible to buy new music in dedicated music stores, it is usually only very recently-released albums and most of the floor space is dedicated to used product.

I'm not arguing this is a bad thing, by the way. I am merely observing the situation as I perceive it.
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:19 AM   #7
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If I cant get his books in digital format he will still lose a sale because I am not buying new books on paper. I have just plain run out of physical space and dont need more books clutering up my house. As for losing money on ebook sales that is nuts. Once a book has been formated there is no more major additional cost to the publisher to produce it for sale, other than maybe a transaction fee and web site suport, which would be spread over many books and other departments most likely. There is no storage ,printing, shipping, stocking, damged books or what have you. The customer pushes a button and the book is downloaded. The author gets the same cut he is entitled to by his royalty contract for books sold. Selling ebooks seems to me to be a better alturnative than selling no books.
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:33 AM   #8
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Not sure about comparing CD's to Books. While the vast majority of people buy Music in some form, the same cannot be said for books. We in England, as I'm sure has been widely reported, are not the most literate of people, and the book buying public make up a small minority.

If a survey was carried out to find the percentage of people who regularly read, the answer would most likely be 95-98% of the population. This though (as surveys generally do) would be misleading as it would include those that read the sports pages in the Tabloid papers etc.

In England it is the same for religion. 80% of people, if questioned, would say Christian. Less than 2% would be practising ones.

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Old 11-04-2009, 04:39 AM   #9
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Bill: I agree with you one hundred percent ... and I make my living as a publisher. A publisher's role is (secondary to the author) as creator. We're approaching the point where we can cut out the non-creative ancillary workers and get straight to the reader. When folks moan about high street bookstores going broke, I always remember how change bureaux cashed in on selling money in Europe before the Euro put them out of business. I don't weep for those who take a ride. Book sellers are shopkeepers. That's all. They offer a few inches of shelf space and demand four, five, six ... whatever ... times more than the author in return. Bloody cheek. A disgrace! Neil
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Old 11-04-2009, 05:02 AM   #10
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Thanks Neil, Love the kilt. I just dont see how not selling a book can be better for business than selling a book. I know Grisham may not need the money but I am sure a lot of other authors would love to see their books sell aditional copies in digital format. This will keep me from buying SK's new book too, and I have most of his books in HardBack editions. I would probably bought his book on release day as well
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Old 11-04-2009, 05:17 AM   #11
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I've been a shopkeeper a long time ago.
I sold books, in a really old fashion, now out of time, way. My shop was a small one, in the outskirt of town. People came in to have company, not only to actually shop.
Usually the book-buyer spent a couple of hours with me and my mother, talking about books, authors and themes, asking for advice ad getting suggestions.
In a few cases, I also offered "pay after you read" deals to promote authors I liked.

That kind of commerce died long before the rising of the digital market: it was replaced by the shopping mall ternd.
There you go, look at the shelves, you usually don't ask nothing to the staff, fill your trolley, go to the counter, give your credit card, a little smile and goodbye.

This kind of shopping can and will be replaced by Internet shopping. But that old white haired shopkeeper who's become your friend couldn't.
He's just been swept away by recession.

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Old 11-04-2009, 05:29 AM   #12
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Don't forget, FormatC, that many of those white-haired, stoop-shouldered, friendly old book sellers we remember with a tear in our eye were often selling second-hand books with absolutely zero benefit to author, editor or publisher. It was the original book piracy. Neil
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Old 11-04-2009, 05:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Solicitous View Post
I haven't seen any CD stores close down because of digital music.
I've seen a lot of record stores close.
Independent record stores are now almost non-existent and the few major chains that are left are hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
Tower records - dead
Virgin Megastores - dead

Retailing has always been the most inefficient part of the distribution train, so it's no surprise that the internet is putting great stress on it. The only reason that Amazon hasn't already killed off the bookstore is that people like to browse, and that's still far easier to do in a store with physical books. How long people will continue to pay for that privilege remains to be seen. The problem isn't eBooks, it's that retailing just costs too much and there are other business models that can cut out all that overhead.

Having said that, I don't expect the $10 Kindlebooks price-point to survive.
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:14 AM   #14
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As long as retailers demand as much -- or more -- of the cover price of a book as the author, editor, publisher, printer and physical distributor combined, and still sell second-hand books with financial benefit to nobody but themselves, I have little sympathy. N
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:32 AM   #15
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As long as retailers demand as much -- or more -- of the cover price of a book as the author, editor, publisher, printer and physical distributor combined, and still sell second-hand books with financial benefit to nobody but themselves, I have little sympathy. N
Retailers and distributors, like printers and truck drivers, put some work in every single copy of the book being sold.
Authors, editors and cover designers don't.



Obviously, if an author like John Grisham puts up a site to sell his (e)books directly to the public, he'd double his income.
And if he goes DRM-free, multiformat and with bundle offerings like Steve Jordan does, he can do even better.

I really don't know why big names don't follow that path...

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