Tuesday, April 7, 2009
This is very true. I've felt a very insistent need for plotty, neatly ending, easily digestable books as these tough times have become more real to me. I imagine it is the mental equivalent of needing sweet, fatty goodness in times of stress, and releases similar waves of dopamine or seratonin or whatever it is. Most recently read, for example--and these books are all exactly what they sound like:
Mistress of the Art of Death
An Unexpected Pleasure
The Curse of the Pharohs
Sunday, April 5, 2009
From Black Plastic Glasses, a very informative article that offers actual analysis of how much e-books cost publishers. Here's a depressing summation: "Clearly ebooks aren’t free - they are perhaps as expensive or in some cases more expensive than print - yet they do not create large, short term cash flow to cover their costs. Ebooks, if successful, will sink the trade publishing industry." As things stand how, he says, e-books must always depend on print sales to finance them and to keep publishers afloat--hardly the model anyone envisioned when looking to the future of this new medium. Not only are they not our saviors, but they're positive leeches on the system, it seems. The author promises follow up pieces on how to escape this unfortunate situation.
Friday, April 3, 2009
People just aren't going to stand for e-book prices that approximate actual book prices. I'm surprised they stand for those that are only slightly lower. The first commentator on this article makes a good point: it is probably true that our intuitive sense of the relative cost of making an e-book, and therefore the justified price of one, is mistaken. I don't think it's very likely, though, that anyone is ever going to win consumers over with logic. People aren't going to start paying for online newspapers that they've never had to pay for before, and they're not going to stomach paying as much for an ephemeral digital file as they would for a physical book. Whether it is an instinctive sense of value, or simply that we have gotten used to paying nothing or very little for internet-gleaned entertainment, I don't see this attitude shifting any time soon or ever. Where does this leave publishers? Maybe it will drive technological advancements that will lower the cost of publishing and distributing an electronic book. Maybe they will just be stuck with low low profit margins. As someone who cares about the industry, I feel for them: the promise of this shiny new technology is marred by the fact that it won't lead to the more substantial profits that publishers and their authors need and deserve. As a reader though, I am unwilling to factor this sympathy in when calculating what price I will pay. Perhaps e-books will eventually become so easy to get and read that more people will read, period, and that increased volume will make up in some way for the low profit margins. I don't see why not. Any maybe eventually publishers will be able to save money by not printing and distributing/storing as many physical books. They're hardly going to abandon e-book technology, in any case, and I'm sure eventually readers and publishers will reach a sort of leveling off point on prices where neither feels utterly screwed by the system.