Author Who Claimed $9.99 Not A Real Price For Books Admits Comments Were A Mistake

from the good-for-him dept

We recently wrote about how author Douglas Preston made the following comments in the NY Times about ebook pricing:

“The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing…. It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something…. It gives me pause when I get 50 e-mails saying ‘I’m never buying one of your books ever again. I’m moving on, you greedy, greedy author.'”

We were among those who took offense at the comments, which suggested not an “entitlement” feeling from the American consumer, but from an author who didn’t want to listen to what his fans and potential customers were telling him.

Of course, it looks like the backlash got even stronger following that quote in the NY Times. Robert Ring alerts us to io9’s coverage, saying that after the NYT’s piece came out, Preston’s book started getting one-star reviews on Amazon, with many people mentioning the NY Times quote as a reason not to buy the book.

Preston and his co-author put out a note on their website trying to calm people down, and when he spoke to io9, basically admitted that his original comments were a mistake, saying that his readers have convinced him that ebooks should be cheap. However, given that, he still feels there should be release windows, that put out the more expensive physical book first:

I think my comments were pretty stupid, to be frank. They came after a long month of being attacked by Kindle owners who blamed me personally for the fact that my publisher delayed the Kindle release for four months. I was frustrated and said some things to the New York Times reporter that did not reflect my actual views on the subject. I have been hearing back from many readers, some supporting my comments, many more criticizing them.

I think most readers feel strongly that an ebook, which they can’t pass along to friends, can’t add to their library, and which comes with DRM attached, should be considerably cheaper than a real book. And I would have to agree. The real question is when this cheap ebook should be made available. Studios don’t release cheap DVDs the day a feature film is released, publishers don’t release the cheap paperback the day a hardcover comes out. I’m not sure why consumers should expect a cheap ebook on the day of publication either.

Kudos to Preston for admitting his mistake, though I’m sure plenty of his fans and potential customers won’t like the windowing suggestion either. Hopefully they can convince him that holding back what your fans want is almost never a good business model and has a high likelihood of backfiring. If publishers want to sell more expensive hardcover books, they should focus on making sure that the scarce value people get for the physical book is that much greater than the ebook version. That is, rather than limiting how you can connect with fans, publishers should focus on creating positive reasons why fans would want to buy the physical book.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Author Who Claimed $9.99 Not A Real Price For Books Admits Comments Were A Mistake”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Planespotter (profile) says:

lmao… and still after all this interaction with his fans he doesn’t get it.

Listen Mr Preston, IF I want your book in hard cover I’ll buy it in hard cover, if I want it in paperback then I’ll buy it in that format, as I read everything in these days on portable book readers I WANT IT IN THAT FORMAT! Over the last few years I’ve spent a considerable large amount of money getting the e-book versions of my favourite “guaranteed to re-read again” classics, I’m not trying to con you out of cash, I just want to be able to read your latest book in a format of my choosing and at a price that isn’t the same as the actual paper edition.

Daniel says:

The sense of entitlement of the American author is absolutely astonishing…. It’s the anti-consumer mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for your country. It’s this notion of not wanting to charge the real price of something…. It gives me pause when I consider sending an e-mail saying ‘I’m never buying one of your books ever again. I’m moving on, you greedy, greedy author.

Anonymous Poster says:

I think most readers feel strongly that an ebook, which they can’t pass along to friends, can’t add to their library, and which comes with DRM attached, should be considerably cheaper than a real book.

Well, considering that they’d basically be renting the eBook under those terms…yeah, I’d imagine they WOULD think it should be cheaper than a real book.

Oh yeah, there’s also the fact that it’s an eBook – that might be why they think it should be cheaper than a real book.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re:


Studios don’t release cheap DVDs the day a feature film is released, publishers don’t release the cheap paperback the day a hardcover comes out. I’m not sure why consumers should expect a cheap ebook on the day of publication either.

You know, maybe they SHOULD start releasing cheap DVDs on the day a film is released – one marketing campaign for the film instead of three different ones across the space of a year, plus all that extra revenue…

Same goes for book publishers – if they released a cheap paperback / eBook version of a pricey hardcover on the same day as the hardcover, they would probably get quite a bit more sales of the book.

Windows aren’t the answer; giving the consumer more options in the marketplace is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

i always say i’ll wait til the book comes out in hardcover, then i forget about it and don’t get the book. so i know they’ll at least make one extra sale off of me if they released them at the same time. there are probably more like me too. plus, people may be more willing to buy books on the bestsellers lists if its cheaper too.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Funny he should say this. Just saw a commercial for the latest Jet Li movie the other day with a VERY interesting promotion to it:

Tau Ming Chong (a.k.a. The Warlords) (link to IMDB)

Due in theaters on April 2nd, 2010. However, the ad was claiming that you could subscribe to the HDNet Movie channel and see it on March 31st. They also said it may be available On Demand.

It will be interesting to see if it’s true (hard to believe entertainment companies these days), but if so, I applaud the forward thinking!

Ima Fish (profile) says:

eBooks… “should be considerably cheaper than a real book

He still doesn’t get it as far as I’m concerned. He still thinks he can determine the price of an product a priori. The market will set the price on eBooks. Maybe the market will make eBooks cheaper, and it’s still possible that the market will make eBooks more expensive. Or maybe something in between. But it will not be authors or publishers who make that final decision.

Jakez says:

Re: Entitled Authors

Imagine if you will for a moment that an author has just spent the last 14 months writing a masterpiece for us to read.

14 months on an “experts” salary in most fields would mean somewhere in the 100k to 150k pay range. (i.e. 80-120k per annum)

Now imagine that you as an expert go out and hire a marketing firm to hype up your new product. We will say for ballpark you are going to put together a 1 million dollar campaign. (idk if that is realistic or not either high or low)

Now imagine both the author and the marketer have done their job well and the book previews and or launches in the best seller list.

That first month will mean an excess of 30k books will be sold. At $10 – $40 per book they stand the potential to have at least broken even in the first month.

Entitled is a relative term. Cost is relative in the market but so is value. Make something of value and sell it at every level right off the bat. You will sell more at the lower levels yes but this is not a quality versus quantity issue… You as an author create the quality and it is in no way related to the type of media it is sold on.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re: Entitled Authors

None of that matters to the person who is purchasing a book. The author is not entitled to be paid because they spent 14 months writing a book.

The author has to write a work that holds value to someone else to want to pay money for it. And that value has to do with how that work will enrich their lives, and has nothing to do with costs associated to it.

It’s up to the author to spend the right amount of time writing something that people want to spend money on. It’s not that the author spends a chunk of their life and then deserves to be paid back for it. A smart author will have a plan in place to make money BEFORE spending a year writing, not dedicating a portion of their life on the hope that they will make money later. Not if they expect writing to be their primary income.

Good authors will write works that people appreciate and want to pay for. Bad authors will make no money and have to do something that actually holds value to people if they want to be paid.

History is littered with people who spend months, years, DECADES (*cough* Duke Nukem *cough*) working on projects that produced nothing of value or nothing that people valued enough to justify the cost the creator wanted. Those people fail. It’s life. They don’t deserve anything, because they didn’t do anything deserving of anything. They created something that no one wanted. It’s a risk, and risks can pay off big or break the bank. If they want security, then they need to get that BEFORE dedicating a significant portion of time to a project.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Entitled Authors

so i don’t care how much money you think installing my cabinets should take, i expect a fully proffessional job for like a tenth of the normal price.

and since that is what i am willing to pay for paid labor, that is what i expect you to charge.

look, your ‘skills’ aren’t imporant. neither is your ‘time’ these things are irrelevent to me. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

comparing DVD sales to ebook sales isn’t apples to apples. i don’t get a different experience reading a hard cover than i do seeing a movie in the movie theatre.

i have no problems with a tiered release schedule if that means i am paying $5 for an ebook. i can wait. there are already a large number of readers who only by paperback books, this is the same thing.

yes, i know, those people will only buy paperbacks, so why not just offer the paperbacks at the same time as the hardcover? shelf space. there isn’t enough.

besides, it isn’t like there are 8 books released a year like sci-fi movies, you can read all day every day and still never get through all of them.


PaulT (profile) says:

I’m a regular reader, but it’s rare that I *have* to have a book at the time of its first release. I never buy a hardback (unless I request it as a Christmas gift), and by the time the paperback’s out, I rarely pick the book up straight away. This is partly to do with the cost (new paperbacks are around £6-8 (US$10-14) in the UK unless they’re a bestseller discounted by supermarkets), which is an extortionate price for a book I will probably only read once. I sometimes don’t even bother with favourite authors – I’m a big Stephen King fan, but it never crossed my mind to rush out and buy Under The Dome when I still have other books waiting to be read. I’ll pick up a paperback when the urge takes me to get round to it.

So, I buy a lot more used paperbacks than new books because of the price difference. Good for me, but that’s a lot of money the author and publishers aren’t seeing. However, I do accept that it’s difficult for them to reduce these prices because of the high costs of paper and printing.

eBooks get rid of this problem. I would be much more likely to pay £3-4 for a new eBook than double that for a paperback or 3-5x that for a hardback. But, windowing is not going to convince me to buy a physical copy and the price/DRM are the main reasons I don’t read eBooks already. I’m much more likely to just pick up a copy from a second hand store whenever I feel like reading a few books, which means that the publisher has refused to let me buy an eBook for $5 and instead accepted $0.

RenegadeTempest says:

e-Books have different properties than physical books

When I buy a physical book, I can share it with friends, trade it, resell it because I OWN it.

eBooks are licensed. By buying an e-book, I give up rights. I the producer has much more control of what I do with the property. Most readers don’t let me loan books. I can’
t resell the books. I can’t trade it when I am done.

Why should the producers be shocked when users aren’t willing to pay the same price as a hard cover book?

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: e-Books have different properties than physical books

But book piracy makes it so that you actually CAN give your friends a copy of that book. Sure, reselling is impossible, but sharing it with others is possible.
Which means that yet again the (gratis) pirate option provides more value than the (paid for) DRM option.

Limiting what your customers can do with your product is as silly in real world as it is in the digital world.

DRM is defective by design.

Richard (profile) says:

How to explain the author's sense of entitlement

I think the reason why authors/artists/musicians/inventors become unreasonable about their intellectual property is that they focus too much on it. In the end they do not possess it – rather it possesses them.

As a wiser man than I once said

“Don’t you understand that the moment you have taken a copper coin in your hand and are not prepared to open your hand to let it go, you have lost the use of a hand, the use of an arm, the use of your body, because all your attention will be concentrated on not losing this copper coin, – the rest will be forgotten.”

“Attachment” is a problem with physical property – for some reason it seems to be much worse with intellectual property.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How to explain the author's sense of entitlement

i don’t think it is the artists, not really, but rather the antiquated publishing industry.

when you buy a book around 80% of the cost goes somewhere other than the author. that money is going to people who want more money. so 80% of a hardback is way better than 80% of a paperback.

and yes, you can negotiate better deals with your publisher, i certainly hope these writers are trying to. and you could go on without these publishers as well.

but try to get into a barnes and noble if you are distributed by ingram. i’ll give you a hint: no fucking chance.

see as neat as the internet is, most books are bought at bookstores. which makes the 80% more valuable of a devil since you know someone has a chance to see your book. (esp if you write horror and your last name begins with K)

we are all pissed at that 80% but instead of saying MacMillian is bad! we are saying X writer is greedy! y reader is petty! etc.

point the fingers where they are deserved, at the publishing houses that are running a dying business model.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: How to explain the author's sense of entitlement

I think you misunderstand my point. I’m not blaming the author/artist, rather I’m describing the corrupting influences that being a “rights holder” exposes you to. This may explain why a good author, that you might think to be a very decent person if you met him socially, can nonetheless come to express a point of view that is foolish/distasteful. Of course the publishing industry has a major role in encouraging this attitude – but the authors/artists do express these opinions themselves.

In the quoted analogy they would be like the person who gives you the coin and admonishes you to keep hold of it.

By analogy I don’t think that the saying “power corrupts” implies that politicians are bad people – rather that they are good people subject to bad influences.

RD says:

Re: Re: How to explain the author's sense of entitlement

“but try to get into a barnes and noble if you are distributed by ingram. i’ll give you a hint: no fucking chance.”

Could you elaborate a bit on this point? I’m very curious as to why that is, and what/why there is a barrier using a distributor like Ingram that would prevent B&N carrying your product? And yes, I am being serious, and not sarcastic. B&N is the biggest out there in the retail space and I’m sure any budding authors would appreciate any info that could help them avoid such a huge pitfall.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: How to explain the author's sense of entitlement

well, there is a slight exaggeration in my post, ingram isn’t the only distributer out there.

but here is the major bump in the road for small press or (heaven forbid) self published.

book stores work under a fluid stock sorta system. That is they need to be able to fluxiate very easily what is on the floor. so when christmas comes around you order a bazillion christmas books.

but what happens to them in january? you don’t sell them all. you pack them up and send them back to ingram. (or whoever was the distributer for that book, which is also often the publisher themselves)

the book store gets credit for sending the stock back which they use to get more stock, this time for valentines day.

small press usually doesn’t have the ability to do this. print on demand does NOT have this ability. there is no where for the book to go but stay on the shelf.

barnes and noble’s (and most chain’s) solution to this is to simply not carry these books. A book that cannot be returned that does not sell will eventually be a loss. too many of these can hurt the store.

there are always exceptions, the store i worked at carried a few iUniverse titles from local authors, but stock was purchased once and never refilled.

this is what those big publishing houses buy you for that 80% of the cover price. you can be on the shelf because your book will go somewhere when it doesn’t sell. (or cover ripped up and book destroyed if it is a paperback)

or i should say this is the price you pay for being on teh shelf at a major bookstore. this is why small press has trouble breaking into these places and is more likely found in local shops.

so you should support those local shops when you can.

felix (profile) says:

strange conclusions...

I find it odd that in his retraction he says that the whole thing was brought on by his frustration with the frustation of his readers at the window between when the physical book was published and when the kindle version arrived. In the very next paragraph he then goes on to say that this window is exactly what publishers need to create. Um.

So, this is how I understand the timeline. Readers complain. Instead of addressing their issue (kindle delay) suggest that e-books should be 50% more expensive and that readers are spoiled brats. Readers complain. Admit that last idea (price increase, dumb readers) was maybe wrong, the fix is to add kindle delay. What?

Caleb (profile) says:

Re: Am I the only one...

Baen and Webscriptions has been doing this for years. They release “eARCs”, electronic Advanced Reader Copies, a few weeks to months prior to print release of a new title in hardback. Price is a few dollars (~$15 on a $20 proofed release) less than the fully proofed and completely edited hardback price. But if you are one of the type As that just have to know what happened with character X or storyline Y right now, two things unlikely to be changed by final edits, you can get your gratification a bit earlier than the mob for just a few shekels more. And if you have to have the Official Release a few weeks later to complete your collection, you can pay full price again. And if you don’t want to pay full freight for a new release, within 3 or four months these new releases will be incorporated in a monthly subscription set of 6-7 ebooks for a total of $15. Wowsers! Three price points within 4 months! Madness!

But judging by the fact that new eArcs by popular authors hit the online site every few weeks, and that edited editions follow shortly thereafter, and that within a quarter that same hot release is bundled with 4 or 5 other books for a price lower than the full release of the edited edition, I imagine the market works fairly well.

Considering how Baen and Webscriptions have in fact been delivering on the very marketplace practices that Techdirt has espoused, when are we going to see an interview?

Bobby Boberstein says:

Why shoudl he care what the book sells for, as long as he gets his 50 cents per copy? In the actual book how much of the price is due to creating the physical product. That should all go away. Now the cost of creating the entity for the readers is just storage of the book, and bandwidth costs related to distribution. How much of the physical book price, related to warehousing, shipping, giving away free copies for review purposes…..

The cost of a virtual product shoudl be author creation payment, and the middle men profits that stand between him and teh consumer. Now if you reduce the proce enough, you may find both sell allot more copies. Say $3. The author gets 50 cents, the publisher(don’t knwo why we need these anymore)get 50 cents, Amazon gets 50 cents. That leaves 1.50 to promote it per book copuie sold.Give that to google. LOL

Planespotter (profile) says:

I think authors/publishers are making too mush of an issue over formats. People will buy what people want to buy, why force people to wait for a product to appear in a format they want. Windows are just plain daft as far as I’m concerned. By the time you get round to releasing the e-book version I may have moved on or forgotten, you’ve lost out on my ££’s.

These industries seem to be looked into an era pre-internet/pre-tech… this is the 21st Century people, not the middle of the 20th!

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because the number of books they sale has a direct relationship to the amount of profit per book.

More physical books sold, more profit. Less books, more waste, less profit.

They’re willing to sacrifice the eBook market to keep the physical market a little bit more profitable for a little bit longer. Ironically, they’re sacrificing a market with such reduced costs associated with it that they could rake in substantial profits at lower prices.

Where they could leverage eBooks into a new explosion of literature and reading with stories distributed faster, with larger libraries and back catalogs (NO MORE “OUT OF PRINT” EVER!!!), and lower costs with a net benefit to society (lower prices = more people reading) … they’re instead willing to ignore that (and actually sabotage it) and cling to a failing print industry where profit margins are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Andrys (profile) says:

He was "attacked" ?

Douglas Preston received some very bad reactions after he posted confrontational notes to Amazon customers, with inaccurate information about publishing processes in them.

Whatever he perceived as “attacks” are a direct result of things he said and the way he said them. They were not helpful to his or his publisher’s situation.

Outside of that, I hear he’s a good writer, but next time he might want to hire a PR person to write his forum material.

Shad Bolling (profile) says:

Re: Getting an author to sign an e-book

You don’t get an author to sign an e-book — rather, you get them to sign something scarce.

For instance, an enterprising company could create something specifically for signings — an author-specific website for uploading pictures (or videos, etc.) of you and the author; a smart-phone app that lets authors directly download book-tour-specific scarce items to your phone (website badges, scans of signed 8×10 photos, ballot entries for giveaways, etc.); a Foursquare-enabled “check-in” that also allows authors to authenticate it; a physical coupon that the author can sign that fans can scan/fax to the publisher or to a website to be entered into a drawing; etc.

Sergio says:

Works for video games

In the video game world, the Collector’s Edition comes out the same day as the regular one. It costs more and only certain (collector) people buy it. For they most part, they still sell out fairly quickly. Esentially, that’s what the hard cover is, it’s the collector’s edition of the book, the one only the biggest fans are going to buy.

Oh and since when do they stagger DVD releases. The Special Edition is always out the same day as the regular. If anything, the more expensive one comes out later. I remember buying The Fifth Element on DVD and then a few years later buying the new 2 disc Superbit Special Edition because I had loved the movie so much.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Works for video games

He’s comparing the hard cover release to a theatrical release.

Movie comes out in theater/Hard cover book is released

Months go by…
Home DVD of movie is released/Paperback version of book is released

He’s saying the eBook version should come out the same window as the DVD/Paperback, not the theatrical/Hardcover window.

Tyanna says:

That was some awesome backpedaling he did there. I guess only time will tell if it did any good.

But, there was one thing that he said that was truthful, and I think ebook readers should take to heart:

“…publishers don’t release the cheap paperback the day a hardcover comes out. I’m not sure why consumers should expect a cheap ebook on the day of publication either.”

Exactly the point really. I don’t buy hardcover books b/c they are overly expensive, so I have to wait months for a soft cover version. If an ebook is release the same day as the soft cover, I don’t see what the problem is. Hardcover always gets precedence.

Derrick Thiele says:

You know that even though the movie studios/authors/publishers/musicians try to control their industry it is really the consumers that do.

We have told what to believe, what to buy, when to buy it, how much to pay for it for a long time. All we need to do to send a message to these people is to not buy their products.

Back in the old days when people were upset about the tax on tea they didn’t just bitch about it and then buy the tea anyways. They dumped a ton in the harbor to send a message. Don’t F with us. When business try to screw over they employees, the employees would form a union and strike.

The consumers need to send the same message. Stop buying new movies/music/books. The consumers need to stike against the above industries. Send a message. I haven’t bought a new movie, a new album, or a new book in years. I don’t download music or movies illegally. I have purchased 100+ DVDs, 50+ CDs, 100+ Books in the past couple of years though. All used and with doing that the artists/publishers/recording studios/etc. don’t see a cent of my money.

talkspam says:

If you continue to believe the author has any control whatsoever (except for those are few who command the premiums we all hate), you do not know what you are talking about. It is the publisher that controls when, where, and how a book is made available. To complain to the author is naive and frankly uninformed. Write the publisher and complain. If you like an author’s work, buy it when it’s available in the format you want and a price that you feel comfortable with. Don’t punish the author for something out of his control.

Early digital delivery and the expectation of lower costs are not necessarily realistic considering the amount of effort required to generate digital content. Publishing a physical book is almost a no-brainer, but composing pages for digital delivery and preventing (or at least complicating) unauthorized publication and distribution is much more labor intensive.

Maybe if the cheap version everyone desires simply delivers the text in Times New Roman without any typography or extra features (e.g., photos, video, audio, etc.) — but I’m sure people would complain about that too.

Cynyr (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m willing to bet that all of the layout and typesetting for a book is done digitally now. So is it is difficult to make a digital version, that sounds like a great opportunity for a feature to be added to an existing product, or one that translates the industry typeset standard into epub or pdf or ?. If it is digital and laid out already why can’t the computer just make one? right publishers aren’t programmers, but i’m betting there are a bunch out of work atm that would take it as a contract.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Speaking one's mind

I think he said exactly what he meant in the first place, and then discovered that he had totally pissed off his audience and is trying to mitigate his faux pas. Too bad for him. I hope people continue to vote with their pocket books and make clueless boneheads like Preston go the way of the dodo that they so rightfully resemble.

Chuck says:

added value to tempt me to buy a hardback copy

If they really want us to pay for the higher price hardback version then they should give me a reason to pay extra. While I do buy the hard cover books that I want to add to my “collection” of special series or authors that I am reading I really don’t care for them just because of the bulk to carry them. Why not include a free digital copy of the book with the purchase of the hard cover version. I would be willing to pay the extra dollar or so abover the normal hard cover price to pay for the cost of the media to include the digital copy.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

All this author proves

is that he is a spineless wonder and is not willing to stand up to what he believes in favor of a buck.

The market will go where it goes, but if Amazon continues to allow the vocal minority to taint it’s rating system it will be come about as useless as EBays and will be seen as being as much a joke as EBays ratings are.

Retaliation against Authors in the rating systems such as Amazon’s does nothing bunt taint the system and make the vocal minority look like asses.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: All this author proves

Retaliation against Authors in the rating systems such as Amazon’s does nothing bunt taint the system and make the vocal minority look like asses.

While I agree it is puerile to use a product review forum in such a way, it would appear that in this case the collective immaturity also managed to make the author feel like an ass.

LEC (profile) says:

in the dark

You have to feel sort of bad for him for being archaic/narrow-minded. From his perspective, he is a writer and just wants whatever he thinks he should or would normally receive for his work.

His comments about walmart and false prices are true – manufactured items like clothes and food are cutting corners elsewhere (social impacts + environmental costs + bad quality). But you can’t apply that to an ebook? Problem is the publishing industry’s outdated business model (but I guess he would be in worse trouble if he openly bashed them…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Studios don’t release cheap DVDs the day a feature film is released, publishers don’t release the cheap paperback the day a hardcover comes out.


This kind of withholding what the consumer wants as a means of extracting more money from them instead of giving them what they actually want is rapidly failing business models based on monopoly and artificial scarcity of what is essentially nothing more than information – easily copied or reconstructed by end-users.

Enjoy it while it lasts, your sense of entitlement doesn’t impress me, Preston.

JJH says:

Incorrect analogy

I don’t think the delay analogy of movie in theater to DVD really makes sense. It’s more like if there was a delay in release between movie on tape and movie on DVD. If I see a movie I like in theaters I’ll buy the DVD. If I buy and like a book in hardcover I’m not going to buy it again in ebook. I’m going to buy one or the other. In my opinion delaying the ebook will only hurt sales. When a book is released is when it has the most marketing. If I hear about a book I like, and it’s not available for four months I’ll probably have forgotten about it by then.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Services For The Government Education System.

The education system spends a lot more on books than is generally recognized. Think about how you can make a book into a service for the education system.

Here’s one suggestion. Librarians really don’t like to have to have books rebound, because, when done one book at a time, that is a craft operation, skilled hand-labor, and it costs accordingly. At the same time, paperback bindings aren’t sturdy enough to stand up to the kind of usage a library book gets. Then, too, there is cataloging/acquisitions. A publisher, or a group of publishers, can work up a service under which someone comes in and puts an assortment of suitable books on the shelf, complete with all the appropriate tags and stamps they need, and loads records into the computerized catalog, in short, all the work librarians would prefer not to do. A wholesaler who sells things like potato chips to convenience stores is often expected to replenish the actual vending shelves. If the publishers provide service at that level, libraries will find it irresistible.

The one case I am aware of was the Edwin Mellen Press, about twenty years ago. Until 1986, the Edwin Mellen Press was a conventional small press, run by Herbert Richardson, a University of Toronto professor, on a part-time basis and specializing in religion. In 1986, the Press bought a new high-tech printing press, which was essentially a high-grade automated photocopying machine. The system actually became operational in 1988. The logic of the machine, pursued by people who had not stopped to think through the implications, resulted in an ever-increasing number of books, in ever shorter runs. From 1989 onwards, the Press became a kind of academic vanity press, for academics who urgently needed to get their books, typically their Ph.D. dissertations, published in order to get tenure. By bending over backwards to address libraries’ actual costs, the Edwin Mellen Press was able to reliably get a book into all the big university libraries. The result was that when people wanted to check out a professor’s bona fides, by finding out if his book was in the library, the answer would always be yes. The professor was usually prepared to pay a few thousand dollars for that. About 1990, Richardson appears to have had an undiagnosed psychiatric episode of some kind, marked by bizarre conduct, and an attempt to set up his own paper university. That was when the roof fell in. Richardson lost his academic job; _Lingua Franca_ magazine published an expose; whereupon Richardson sued for libel, and lost his case. It can be argued that in a sense, Richardson’s fault consisted partly of being about fifteen years ahead of his time. Nowadays, if you have a book manuscript which the established publishers don’t seem to like, for reasons which seem unfair to you, you stick the book up on a website, and let it find its own audience.

(ref: Warren St. John, “Vanity’s Fair,” _Lingua Franca_, Lingua Franca, Sept.-Oct. 1993, pp. 1, 22-25, 62. )

Going further, it is a little-known fact that something like two-thirds of elementary schoolteachers buy food for the children with their own money. A cup of milk or orange juice and a cookie for everyone in the middle of the morning makes the day go better. A dedicated teacher can easily spend thousands of dollars a year on classroom groceries. That is the way the world is in an age of funding cuts. Books for the classroom are a comparatively small expenditure. So work up a kind of Book-of-the-Month club, designed for teachers wanting to build classroom libraries. The teacher would fill out a subscription blank, describing her classes, and boxes of assorted suitable books would arrive at intervals. It might be appropriate to provide credit, ie. the teacher gets a big box of books in September, say five hundred dollars worth, and pays for them in equal monthly credit card payments until August. This is effectively a variant form of the trade credit a bookstore would be entitled to.

Scott McBride says:

Get a grip people.

I read with interest the responses to Preston’s initial comments. I agreed that they were off base. Now he say that he was wrong. Maybe he is just covering his a$$, But still the vitriol is spewed his way.

Does anybody really believe that books (or movies) should really be released directly to the dollar bargain bin? Why should the a producer automatically shoot for the lowest price?

I agree that the market will ultimately determine the price, but why would I as a seller say “well in six months the price will be $x.x so why should I try to get more now?”

At first I bristled at Preston’s comment about about “the Walmart mentality”, But by reading the comments here, I see it fully on display.

I want it now and I want it cheap.

Flame On

home uti remedy (user link) says:

The real question is when this cheap ebook should be made available. Studios don’t release cheap DVDs the day a feature film is released, publishers don’t release the cheap paperback the day a hardcover comes out. I’m not sure why consumers should expect a cheap ebook on the day of publication either.

i agree with this statement, people always request cheap price for ebook but what about other

crade (profile) says:

There’s nothing wrong with releasing the ebook later (alongside the softcover, or whatever). The problem is that this guy doesn’t realize he is supposed to be selling books, and that this means people have to be willing to buy them. Believe it or not, people can actually choose not to buy your book if they don’t want to, and doing things like delaying the ebook release have an effect on how many people will buy it.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...