We will price our e-books at a wide variety of prices. In the ink-on-paper world we publish new books in different formats (hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market paperback) at prices that generally range from $35.00 to $5.99. In the digital world we will price each book individually as we do today… For physical books, the majority of new release hardcovers are published in cheaper paperback versions over time. We will mirror this price reduction in the digital world.
Publishers argue that it would be difficult to sustain a vibrant business on much lower prices. Margins would be squeezed, and it would become more difficult to nurture new authors…“You’re less apt to take a chance on an important first novel if you don’t have the profit margin on the volume of the big books,” said Lindy Hess, director of the Columbia Publishing Course, a program that trains young aspirants for jobs in the publishing industry. “The truth about this business is that, with rare exceptions, nobody makes a great deal of money.”
This echoes similar points made by Lydia Dishman’s in an earlier article, “The Case Against Dirt-Cheap E-Books”, at BNET:
If massive sales are the only aim, content is devalued to the point of creating digital pulp. Maybe no one old enough to remember real pulp fiction (not the Tarantino film) is reading this, but the only thing that lives on from that era are histories of the pulp fiction genre, not the actual books, which by definition were cheaply produced and contained even “cheaper” content. Pulp’s inherently ephemeral — not exactly a stable foundation for a new business model.
Pricing seems to be the issue that just will not go away right now, and none of the points raised here are new. But I guess the upside is that there is now some more informed discussion going on and publishers are beginning to take it seriously. That, and John Sargent giving other CEO’s a free lesson in communications and transparency.