I’m not trying to add to the eternal debate about print vs eBooks, but there are a couple of things that seem ‘obvious’ to me but not to most publishers. Maybe there’s some reality that I’m missing and I’m hoping someone will throw some light on the publisher’s point of view.
The first one being about publishing e-versions of all print books. Now I get that converting books that have been in print and circulation for a while require some sizeable amount of manpower, time, money, etc. But what about those that are going into print as I write this blog. Why is it not a practice (yet) to release the eBook at the same time as the print version (if not a few days before)? Yes, some publishers are doing this with some books. But it’s still not an ‘absolutely done’ thing. When a writer submits a manuscript, I’m sure there’s a digital version of the bound one around. Books are written and edited on Microsoft Word or Open Office or whatever other software on a desktop or laptop… a eBook is a takes a few clicks and doesn’t cost an extra dime. So I don’t get why publishers don’t publish eBooks simultaneously. Is it because it will affect print sales? Will it really impact print sales negatively?
Coming to my second niggling question, what’s with the whole price debate? Again I’m aware of the whole Amazon vs Apple and the rest of the publishing world fight. But why is there a debate in the first place? An eBook technically doesn’t cost half as much as the print one. There’s the creative cost (which can vary and justifiably so), technology cost (which is a one time cost) and lastly marketing cost if we leave the royalty aspect for a bit. Because it’s such a cost effective medium, it’s so popular with authors going the self-publishing way. So as a reader why would I pay the same price for an eBook as the print version? And I don’t know how publishers are justifying it, but I’m not buying it. If a print book costs $10 or $15, I get that it’s an expensive medium in terms of production and distribution. But eBooks? The Internet is as free as it gets. So while production cost is low, so is the distribution cost. It’s a brilliant space to play the volume game in time (given that the eBook market is still pretty nascent). Logically, the eBook should be cheaper than it’s print version. Would love to hear any publisher’s take on their pricing strategy for eBooks.
Publishing is not some new age business. It’s an industry with very old players. But when it comes to this so called digital revolution, there’s so much debate over things that seem very simple. I may be completely wrong and I hope someone can share some insights from the publishing world.