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Why the book publishing industry is still freaking clueless


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Why the book publishing industry is still freaking clueless
Topic: Media 9:49 pm EST, Feb  6, 2010

So here we have an article written by an author who not only drinks the kool-aid, he is also apparently soaking in it.

There's a rather huge gap of logic involved in this post, where he actually expects us to believe that an individual eBook costs more to make than say, the $14.95 hardcover.

Since there's no real chance this guy is ever going to come around I'll resummarize why he was having problems keeping his books on Amazon.

The publisher is dumb and slow to adapt. They're insisting on selling the eBook for the same price as the paper book. They're not paying for storage or printing or shipping or any of that, and they could be shipping a literally infinite number of copies for the same price as one copy--but demanding that they still need to charge the same amount of money for the electronic version as the print version.

The author is dumb for believing what his publisher is telling him, and by the look of it they led him around the important bits of the conversation and simply tricked him into thinking they were having a frank and honest discussion. Key here is the phrasing he used that says it takes "extra" money to produce an eBook edition. Sure, you might need someone to double-check the typeset, but I fail to see how this can't be the same person that did the typesetting on the printed version of the book--or why it can't be done at the same time. It's not like we're still in the days where some guy manually typeset every single letter in a printing frame--all this crap is handled electronically now.

He rambles on at length about how many paper books sold versus how many electronic books sold. It's no big suprise that by comparison, not a lot of eBooks are selling. They require an expensive eBook reader which may or may not still be supported or even usable in 20 years, and paper books don't fail due to expiring DRM licences. This is what happens when you require DRM which we know to be prone to these failures. I bet he never even thought to ask his publisher what the ratio of ebooks sold vs total ebook readers was, and how it compares to how many paper books sold vs Amazon's normal buying volume.

...and lastly, everyone knows there's a large chunk of money tied up in the books, themselves. It's not the marketing, it's not the royalties--it's the physical act of printing and storing and shipping and inventoring a bunch of slabs of compressed tree pulp. In it's physical form, it's a non-trivial cost and it doesn't exist with an eBook, yet we're being asked to pay for that by practically every single goddamn publisher out there. If you've not looked into eBooks before the Kindle came out, it was the same story all over. The sale price of the electronic version of a book was exactly the same as the printed paperback almost everywhere, every time. It's no wonder no one's quick to adopt these things. What's not to like about a copy of a book you don't really own, that might one day become unreadable due to bureaucratic snafu or lack of legal obligation to keep the DRM updated, and that you can't really pass on to your grandchildren (because again, you don't really own it).

Amazon's demand that the eBooks be sold for no more than ten dollars isn't exactly looking for fodder to fulfill their monopolistic dreams of a Kindle on every schoolchild's desk and two or three in every home--they're looking to drag the book publishing industry into the 21st Century, and they're willing to ignore the kicking and screaming to do it.

Why the book publishing industry is still freaking clueless

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