I’ve been so pleased with so many of your decisions at Sourcebooks, like releasing Georgette Hayer backlist with spiffy covers and such high quality bindings that I’ve received letters from people thanking me for letting them know about them. There’s that upcoming Kinsale, too, that makes me giddy to the point of twitching.
But today’s news about ebooks? Oh, no. It’s a big ol’ clusterfuck of head shaking forehead pounding with a side order of, “Oh, honey.”
Sourcebooks is issuing 75,000 copies of “Bran Hambric,” a sizable print run in this economy, and has arranged a substantial marketing campaign and book tour for Mr. Nation.
“It doesn’t make sense for a new book to be valued at $9.99,” said Dominique Raccah, CEO of Sourcebooks, which issues 250 to 300 new titles annually. “The argument is that the cheaper the book is, the more people will buy it. But hardcover books have an audience, and we shouldn’t cannibalize it.” An e-book for “Bran Hambric” will become available in the spring, she said.
Richard Curtis, Mr. Nation’s agent, concurs on holding back the e-book edition. “We don’t want to undercut the sales and royalty potential of the printed hardcover,” Mr. Curtis said.
While filing my teeth and chewing on digital media for my daily nutrition could make for some awesome seminar presentations, I have to say, COME ON NOW AND I MEAN IT.
As an ebook consumer, I already agree to take on significant limitations when I choose digital media. I can’t share or lend it. I can’t in most cases give a copy of the book (unless I feel like Waiting for Fictionwise) to someone I think might like it. In some cases, as with Kindle, I can’t even guarantee that I’ll be able to download and reread the book more than six times.
Yet I choose digital media because it works for me, and I liek it. So why am I being penalized because I don’t want to buy the hardcover, and should therefore wait six months or more for the digital copy.
LISTEN UP. If you read nothing else but the following paragraph, then please know I mean what I say here:
I WILL NOT BUY A HARDBACK BECAUSE YOU WANT ME TO, BECAUSE IT’S BETTER FOR YOUR REVENUE STREAM.
I WANT EBOOKS. I WANT DIGITAL BOOKS. I DO NOT WANT HARDBACKS.
YOU CANNOT MAKE ME BUY THEM. YOU ONLY COST YOURSELF THE REVENUE OF MY PURCHASE.
Didja get all that? Seriously, my jaw dropped so hard when I read this article, I’m going to get TMJ from the WSJ.
Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group LLC and Ms. Coulter’s literary agent, said he doesn’t allow any of his authors’ books to be published simultaneously as an e-book when he can prevent it.
“It’s no different than releasing a DVD on the same day that a new movie is released in the movie theaters,” he said. “Why would you do that?”
Mr. Gottlieb, I’ll be honest: I’m embarrassed for you.
Films on DVD and feature films in theatres are NOT the same as digital books and hardbacks. A more apt comparison would be DVD and VHS. VHS, by the way, would be the hardback.
I fully admit that the format questions and the price questions about digital books are still up in the air.
But making this decision is insulting to a growing segment of the fiction buying readership, and, to be frank, ignorantly based on faulty logic. You encourage two things by delaying digital releases of book titles: piracy and ire. I’m not going to pirate books, but I am going to remember that somehow, my digital purchase of your book is of lesser value than a hardback purchase, despite the fact that I buy more books and read more books than most people.
In all things, one should listen to Sarah, in this case, Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester Research:
“Publishers are in denial about the economics of digital content,” said Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps….
Although e-books account for only 1% to 2% of total book sales, as measured by dollars, they are one of publishing’s few bright areas. Ms. Epps… estimates that by year end there will be more than three million dedicated e-reader devices in the U.S., with two million sold in 2009.
Yes, 1-2% is not a great amount, but it’s the only one that’s growing at such an exponential rate. Look at the IPDF statistics for heaven’s sake. Are any of your other revenue streams flooding like that one? In this economy, I doubt it.
I probably should not take decisions like this one so personally, but I am holy hopping angry. It’s insulting to me that I should be dictated what format I should buy, and should be penalized for preferring a different format.
This decision was poorly made and poorly defended. I’m a big fan of your company, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all this week at RWA. You are one of the companies that seems to approach publishing, specifically romance, a little differently, offering up exceptional romance titles long out of print for new audiences to discover.
Digital books are also a new audience, one that should be fostered and treated as equal to those who read paper books. I wish you held us in the same respect as you do your other readers.