There’s been lots of big news in the publishing industry in the last week or so, much of it relating to new technology and how publishers are adjusting (or not) their models of doing business. Much about Apple’s new iPad device and Amazon vs. Macmillan has been discussed in other forums and covered in the news, but a few thoughts from this end of things…
I was thrilled to see Apple was committing its new iBooks store to the epub format, which publishers are truly pushing to become the standard. But my elation was short-lived when Jane at DearAuthor reported that it seems as though the epub file will still have to be tied to an Apple device. More and more, it seems ebook retailers are segmenting the market instead of uniting it. They’re making ebooks more difficult instead of easier for readers to try out. As a reader myself, I want to know that the book I’m buying today, I’ll still be able to enjoy in 10 years, no matter what new devices are out.
Beyond the iBooks format issue, I, like many, was a bit underwhelmed at the “revolutionary” new device. I had been expecting something that acted like a netbook but in tablet form. Instead, we got an overgrown iPod Touch. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my Touch, and I believe I won’t be replacing it with an iPad anytime soon.
Amazon and ebooks
Publishers and ebook retailers still have a long way to go in figuring out pricing for ebooks, as evidenced by this weekend’s showdown between Amazon and Macmillan. But I have to admit that I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for the publishers who don’t think they can make money for a product that sells for less than $9.99. Obviously, the mass-market business model thrives on it. Then again, we also plan for it.
If $9.99 ebooks released simultaneously with $25.99 hardcovers become the norm, publishers are going to have to adjust for it in their breakevens. And ultimately that’s going to affect what the authors are being paid in advance and royalty.