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Old 11-01-2006, 10:12 AM   #1
nekokami
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Lightbulb Suggestion: Give all HC buyers the eBook for free

Here's a suggestion which publishers (who are completely tied to paper) will happily ignore: I think HC buyers should always get the eBook version for free with their purchase. They could then donate the HC to a local library, if they don't want to store it, which would make it that much more likely that others would read it and either buy it or look for other books by that author (or editor or whatever).

Of course, the problem is, what format should be used? Maybe Adobe could get some publishers to go along with this idea as a way to popularize their new standard. I wish it would not be DRM, but I suppose it would be.

Then again, I also think you should be able to send in some kind of proof of purchase (upc code, perhaps? ) and get a massively discounted eBook version of any book you own (e.g. US$2-3/book). I could see publishers being more interested in this one, as it's a way to get more money out of people who've already paid them, for very little investment. However, this might force them to pay the authors something for this extra copy, as well.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-01-2006, 10:23 AM   #2
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But I think publishers don't want you to give the book to another person. For example, they spend a lot of energy trying to fight against the used textbook market, where they feel they are losing a lot of sales. They probably apply the same reasoning to books being passed on. The advertising side is discounted in their minds. The loss of a sale to the person getting the book is what they will notice.

Or the other way around, giving you the e-book is just another way for them to lose an e-book sale. You might have bought it from them, but instead you get it for free? Not good if you're the accountant, and you don't think there's an advertising advantage.
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Old 11-01-2006, 10:31 AM   #3
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Kids can't buy books. They need libraries and helpful "lenders". Some publishers don't care, as long as you buy...

Why is'nt it a suprise that so few kids read? I'm not blaming it all on this fact but it sure does'nt help!
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Old 11-01-2006, 10:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Russell
But I think publishers don't want you to give the book to another person.
Generally, no, they don't. But if they thought the books were going to libraries, they might go along with it. Publishers are very keen to get their books into libraries, or so I've been told.

My thought was that publishers don't see the eBook market as a real book market at all, so I don't know why they would care if they gave away copies of eBooks, as long as they were making sales on the HC books.

But you're probably right, publishers will never want to do this, until we get a few innovative publishers (or authors) who see how this could help, rather than hinder their bottom line.

Actually, you know who will probably be the first to try this? Amazon. It will be part of the Kindle promotion. "Buy a book, get the Kindle version free...." as a limited-time means of selling more Kindles. And Amazon probably has the market clout to get many publishers to go along with it. They sell too many books for any serious publisher to want to try to argue about something like this. As you said, publishers hate the used-book market, and there is Amazon, suggesting that you sell your used books on the same page that the new ones are listed. I know at least one professional author who hates this practice, because she gets nothing from those resold books. (Which is another problem -- there ought to be a way to set up author accounts on Amazon so you can optionally choose to send a percentage of a used book sale to the author.)

Last edited by nekokami; 11-01-2006 at 10:43 AM. Reason: Amazon
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Old 11-01-2006, 11:18 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami
I know at least one professional author who hates this practice, because she gets nothing from those resold books. (Which is another problem -- there ought to be a way to set up author accounts on Amazon so you can optionally choose to send a percentage of a used book sale to the author.)
And Ford doesn't get a cut on all those used F150's either.

I'm a firm believer that authors should be compensated for their work, but I don't know that they should get paid again for the same exact copy. If folks want to do so voluntarily, that's excellent, but trying to build it into the marketplace is reinforcing the content rental concept, except expanding it to cover the physical as well as the digital.

If you sell something, you sell it, and you release all claims to that something, except duplication for profit by the buyer. Just like it's not right for me to outright copy the F150 (if I were that nuts) and sell my own version.

It's interesting that Publishers see the exposure value of having their books in libraries (which typcially sell their books after several years of use), but don't see the same exposure value from private lending or resale.

Last edited by NatCh; 11-01-2006 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 11-01-2006, 12:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
If folks want to do so voluntarily, that's excellent, but trying to build it into the marketplace is reinforcing the content rental concept, except expanding it to cover the physical as well as the digital.
I just want to find a way to make it easier to pay the author (or their designated charity or whatever) if I like their book. Amazon Honor System would work for me, or PayPal donations, or whatever. Actually, I wouldn't mind doing this sometimes for books I buy new. I don't think of it as rent -- more like tipping.

Anyway, the idea I think I was trying to get at with that little side trip is this: just as Apple said they were in competition with pirates when they started iTunes, publishers interested in selling eBooks should probably consider themselves in competition with the used book market. Take a look at the prices on http://abebooks.com (or used books on Amazon). Pick pretty much any book. The used paperback price is probably about what most people would be willing to pay for an electronic copy. I have no research to back this up, it's just a "gut feel" -- I think the used book market is closest to what filesharing/pirates were for digital music, not in ethical terms, but in terms of what people will pay. People who buy used books do so for a number of reasons, of course, and some will pay quite a lot for something rare and in excellent condition -- those aren't (for the most part) the books I'm talking about. But for your typical novel or even non-fiction book, I think this is pretty close to accurate.

Last edited by nekokami; 11-01-2006 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 11-01-2006, 01:05 PM   #7
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Oh, I don't see any flaws in your logic, neko, agree with it in fact. I just want to see that sort of "secondary" recompense clearly recognized as voluntary, I guess.
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Old 11-01-2006, 01:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
.

If you sell something, you sell it, and you release all claims to that something, except duplication for profit by the buyer. Just like it's not right for me to outright copy the F150 (if I were that nuts) and sell my own version.
Hey, Nathan. Maybe Ford will put DRM (Driver Rights Management) on your 150 so you can't sell it or trade it in. That's the approach publishers are taking with Digital RM.
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Old 11-01-2006, 02:07 PM   #9
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Hah! More like Driver Restriction Management!

Which is a more accurate definition for the other too, come to think of it.
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Old 11-02-2006, 12:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
Oh, I don't see any flaws in your logic, neko, agree with it in fact. I just want to see that sort of "secondary" recompense clearly recognized as voluntary, I guess.
Actually, I don't see anything wrong with authors getting compensation for used books/e-books reselling. As long as said compensation for a used book or low-cost e-book wasn't too high a percentage of the sale, say, a few cents per. (I'm not saying this just because I'm an author. I'm just saying.)

However, the logistics of arranging those secondary recompensations would probably not be worth the return.
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Old 11-02-2006, 12:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan
However, the logistics of arranging those secondary recompensations would probably not be worth the return.
Depends.

On another thread, I suggested a writers/readers coop that would compensate readers for books they recommended to the point that someone actually bought the book, using an "affiliate" sort of system. One idea would be to validate and note authors who have accounts in such a system, and let them pitch their own used books. Then if someone bought the used book through the author, the author would get a cut.

I'd try to do it this way, anyway!
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Old 11-02-2006, 02:20 PM   #12
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It's been done!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami
Here's a suggestion which publishers (who are completely tied to paper) will happily ignore: I think HC buyers should always get the eBook version for free with their purchase. They could then donate the HC to a local library, if they don't want to store it, which would make it that much more likely that others would read it and either buy it or look for other books by that author (or editor or whatever).
Baen has put out hardcovers with CDs bound into them. The CDs have typically contained the entire text of the book itself, along with full text of previous books in the series (if any). And full text of complete books by other Baen authors whose writings are likely to be of interest to people who would buy the hardcover the CD is bound into. All these books in the usual four formats that Baen currently supports; all with no DRM.

On top of that, the CDs are marked as free to copy or give away but not for sale. You can find their full content on various web sites -- quite legally, with the publisher and author's blessings.

Dean
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Old 11-02-2006, 02:30 PM   #13
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Baen was truly ahead of its time... well, ahead of other publishers, anyway! The bit about cross-promoting other books in the series, plus similar books, is a natural way to advertise other material and generate more buzz and sales for your books.

So my next question is: Who knew about this? I know it's the first I've heard about it! How successful was it for Baen? And whose job was it to get the word out to everyone else? (Okay, three questions.)
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Old 11-02-2006, 02:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan
Actually, I don't see anything wrong with authors getting compensation for used books/e-books reselling. As long as said compensation for a used book or low-cost e-book wasn't too high a percentage of the sale, say, a few cents per.
Steve, I realize you are in the "Book building" business but this idea of "giving authors compensation for the second, third, ... nth resell of a book is a dangerous precedent. How long before the publishers, distributers, etc. want their cut? How long before you have to pay Ford Motor Co. when you sell a used Ford Explorer, etc.? Or should that payment only go to the designer for his "intelectual property"? I think you can see how this road could lead to onerous & ad infinitum payments. E.g. we may have to cut out a monetary portion for the lumberjack who cut down the tree used for pulp in making paper for your book to be printed on.
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Old 11-02-2006, 02:47 PM   #15
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That's all pretty much why I added that I didn't think such a thing could be done reliably and net a profit worth the trouble.

It's an inherent flaw in the capitalist system that a creation/product is not always handled the same in terms of sellability/resellability. Most of it tends to come down to practicality. Royalties are one result of efforts to improve the system. Most digital content, being very different than physical product, is heavily caught up in that argument, and has served to blur a lot of definitions and decisions around it.

Ideally, I don't have an issue with due compensation for a creation or product. Considering the usually low income afforded to artists, it would be nice to see a system wherein they can make a better living off of their labors. But I readily admit that, however you'd work out who gets what, it just isn't practical.

Last edited by Steven Lyle Jordan; 11-02-2006 at 03:00 PM.
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