Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Attack of the Kindle

Wanted to pass this article along from Publisher Weekly:

Sourcebooks to Delay Release of eBook Version of Hot New YA Novel
Big publishers throughout the industry have been quietly discussing postponing the release of ebook versions of their frontlist hardcover fiction after the dramatic spike in Kindle sales at the widely-despised (within the industry) $9.95 price point--but independent Sourcebooks is the first to score headlines for delaying an ebook release. The WSJ covers their decision to delay an ebook release of Kaleb Nation's BRAN HAMBRIC: The Farfield Curse for at least six months. Sourcebooks has announced a 75,000-copy first printing for September and agent Richard Curtis concurs with the decision: "We don't want to undercut the sales and royalty potential of the printed hardcover." Sourcebooks ceo Dominique Raccah says "hardcover books have an audience, and we shouldn't cannibalize it," adding "it doesn't make sense for a new book to be valued at $9.99." Of course there's another big September release coming where author and publisher have yet to disclose whether they will allow a simultaneous ebook release. Agent Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group says "he doesn't allow any of his authors' books to be published simultaneously as an e-book when he can prevent it." He tells the Journal, "It's no different then releasing a DVD on the same day that a new movie is released in the movie theaters. Why would you do that?"

The real problem, as I see it, is how does this affect book burning? You can't throw a whole Kindle into the fire, and deleting the book just doesn't offer the same satisfaction as the smells of burning paper and glue.


I think Gottlieb is missing the proverbial boat. Kindle book sales (at this point) account for a very small market share and are no real threat to the print market. However, as a writer and a Kindle owner, I think the Kindle or its contemporaries are the future. I know I rarely buy a paper book anymore unless it doesn't look like it's ever going to be released as an E-book. If you draw out his DVD analogy, how many movies does the average person skip altogether, secure in the knowledge that they will eventually wind up in the discount bin at Walmart? I see this as the future of print too -- it will take decades, but it's coming.

Besides, what would be so wrong with releasing a movie on DVD while in the movies? You have people that will still go to the movies because they enjoy the experience. Same with books, you have people that will still buy hardcovers because they enjoy the experience. Royalties are a bit concerning, though. I don't see why an author should make less money off a Kindle sale than a hardcover sale for new releases. It's still the author's intellectual property, regardless of the medium.

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