Author & Publisher Strategies The Reading World

Pricing guru: “price cannibalization should be the least of a book publisher’s worries.”

Rafi Mohammed, a specialist in pricing, has an interesting posting at TheWrap about the reasoning behind the pricing of e-books. Well worth a read. A critical statement, one that points to changes needed in publisher thinking is Mohammed’s comment that “Since e-book sales were somewhat of an afterthought, in most book contracts today, authors receive a lower royalty for an e-book compared to a hardcover sale.”

E-books cannot be an afterthought. The publisher needs to be engaged with the author’s interests, as well. If more can be made from e-books, because the production and returns costs are so much lower, it is time that this new format and channel become the focus of profit-making decisions. Price the e-book to sell profitably, make deals with authors that move physical books based on actual demand, which can be impacted by the availability of e-book versions.

Typically, publishers and authors think of e-books as cannibalizing trade paper and hardcover books, but Mohammed points out that the resale of hardcover books, which does cannibalize sales, is not an issue with e-books. Therefore, you can price an e-book lower without diminishing sales. Instead, those early readers can become evangelists without simultaneously competing with new sales of the book.

I continue to believe that, once the e-book is established, a wide range of prices will be acceptable, based on the audience for information and the services that can be embedded in books that raise their value to readers over time.

Book and Reading News

Blackwell launching e-book store, selling BeBook in stores

BeBookProductpaginaCrop3British academic book retailer Blackwell will begin selling the BeBook e-reader at retail next week, the reports. Blackwell offers more than 45,000 titles for the device, which features an E-Ink display and support for ePub, .mobi, PDF and other e-book formats, will sell for £199 ($327.00 at current exchange rates) through Blackwell’s e-book store. BeBook currently offers the e-reader directly through its site for $279.99, which is described as a “Temporary Price Reduction.”

BeBook is also available at retail Libris and Biz bookstores in the Netherlands.

BeBook had sold 30,000 units as of last September. Based on the increased volume of sales in readers and the new promotion by Blackwell, BeBook will likely finish 2009 with approximately 92,000 units sold, if my market estimates are correct.