Nathan Bransford, Author

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - Publishers Give In

A couple of e-booksellers dominate the field and they have forced unsustainable discounts on publishers. The e-booksellers then engage in a ruthless price war that shrinks the pie further. Publishers are decimated by the low price points and many are forced out of business.

The industry moves to a freelance model where authors have to contract with editors and designers for services, and authors are forced to deal directly with the e-booksellers in order to find publication.

A handful of megabestsellers are able to dictate terms with the threat of negotiating exclusive deals with one of the major e-booksellers, but otherwise everyone else gets very little. A few agencies survive to handle the negotiations for the megabestellers and their subrights.


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Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - E-books Don't Catch On

E-book sales remain a small slice of the book market and Nathan looks silly for having devoted a couple of hours of his time to a Choose Your Own Adventure post for something that was never a big deal to begin with. Haha!!! Joke's on him.


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Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - E-books Catch On

The e-book market is growing very quickly and is about to undergo an enormous change. Some publishers are seeking to establish an "agency" model for e-book sales going forward, where they establish prices and the e-book vendor receives a commission for sales. One of their goals is to increase the amount of competition among e-book vendors by establishing the same deal across the board.

Do you think this is going to work? Will other companies enter the fray? Are there going to be many different e-book vendors or will a couple big players (Apple, Amazon, etc.) dominate the field?

Many different e-booksellers
A couple of big players

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Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - E-book Stores Retain Control

There are many different e-book stores selling e-books at what publishers feel is a sustainable price and discount. The landscape for publishers looks quite a bit like the print era - sales are healthy because multiple e-book vendors are adept at reaching new audiences and publishers are able to invest in finding new ways to market in the Internet era.

Authors have the option of dealing with e-book distributors if they want to take on the responsibility of editing and designing their own books, but it wouldn't be very advantageous for authors to deal directly with any one e-book vendor because the bookselling market is so fragmented. Only publishers and e-distributors have the reach to make an e-book available through all the different e-book stores, and thus the middle men (publishers or distributors) are crucial in order to reach readers, just as you needed a publisher or distributor to reach readers in the print era.

When the dust clears the e-book era looks a whole lot like the print era.


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Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - A Couple of Big Players

Publishers have been unsuccessful at fostering competition among e-book vendors and device makers, and a few big companies dominate the e-bookselling field. Because of their importance to publishers, these companies have enormous bargaining power to establish their terms and discounts. In order to undercut their competition, the companies also want the ability to establish their own pricing.

Will publishers be able to hold the line on what they feel is sustainable e-book pricing and discounts?

Publishers are able to hold the line
Publishers are forced to give in to lower prices and a smaller piece of the pie

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Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - Many Different Vendors

Publishers have been successful maintaining prices and at fostering a competitive e-book environment. Emulating Apple's App store, e-readers are compatible with different e-book stores. There are now many different e-book stores competing against each other not on price, but on consumer experience, extensive catalog, targeted marketing, and innovation.

However, there's now a growing feeling among makers of e-readers that they should restrict which e-book stores they allow onto their devices in order to extract a bigger share the growing e-book revenue.

Who will have more power, the makers of the e-reader devices or the e-book stores? Will there still be competition when the device makers tighten the screws?

Device makers begin to dominate the e-book world
E-book stores retain control

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Choose Your Own E-book Adventure - Publishers Hold the Line

Although only a few companies dominate the e-bookselling landscape, publishers are nevertheless able to hold the line on pricing and discounting to what they feel is a sustainable level.

However, because there are only a few players in the e-bookselling world, it becomes very tempting for authors to deal with Amazon, Apple, B&N, etc. directly in order to maximize their revenue. Publishers lose some of their top authors because of these direct deals and instead have to re-imagine themselves as packagers offering a collection of services.

Authors then have the choice of whether to handle their editing, design and marketing themselves and have their agents negotiate deals directly or take a smaller cut in exchange for publishers handling these nuts and bolts items for them. Some publishers probably survive, but they're not as crucial as they used to be. Authors have choices, though they are likely going to have to assume a great deal of responsibility for marketing their own work.


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