Ebooks and book prices – changes to come, but what and when?
In the weeks since the announcement of patents by Apple and Amazon for systems to sell “used” ebooks, online writers weighed in decrying the development or criticizing the predictors of gloom.
Writing in Magellan Media, Brian O’Leary takes exception to comments by authors who said writers’ incomes would plummet as ebook prices nosed down. He asserts that ebooks would become more valuable–and higher priced–if buyers knew they could resell them and recoup some of the original sales price. He also says that like their paper cousins, individual ebooks would not last forever. As operating systems and ereader software change, various forms of ebooks could become obsolete and not a bargain on the used marketplace.
Suzie Welker, writing in the Orangeberry Book Tours website, says of a used ebook market: “expect it to happen sometime.”
According to Welker, lower priced ebooks–as a result of a used ebook market, I presume–could, for two reasons, have the effect of reducing sales of stolen ebooks on pirate sites. First, many people would be willing to pay a reasonable price to avoid dealing with shady book sellers and second, she reminds us that if your Kindle or Nook dies or is stolen, your legal ebooks, unlike the pirated versions, are recoverable.
The topic of used ebooks aside, Leslie Kaufman, writing in the New York Times, discusses how some big literary agencies are offering their own “self-publishing” ebook options for writers. According to the story, author and playwright David Mamet is using a self-publishing option from his literary agency, ICM Literary Partners as a way to gain more control over his book’s marketing.
Kaufman’s article, which describes book publishing today as “digital disruption,” explains the rationale behind agents’ decision to get into self-publishing. It also provides a summary of different forms of self-publishing available to authors today and explains present royalty structures, of interest to readers (in addition to writers) in order to see where book publishing is going.
What do authors have to gain by paying an agent to “self-publish” for them? Robert Gottlieb, chairman of the Trident Media Group, told the Times that authors benefit from his agency’s experience in marketing and jacket design and his firm can give clients access to plum placement on book sellers’ websites.
What does all this mean for readers, book buyers? Ultimately you will dictate the success of all forms of ebooks as you browse Amazon or Barnes and Noble deciding which title to download. Prices may be lower, one influence on buying decisions. Well-known author names also figure in. But quality? In this expanding, digitally disrupted business be sure to read samples first.
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