Of the Many Things Wrong With the Publishing Business…

This is one of them,

“We do not agree with their pricing strategy,” said Carolyn K. Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster. “I don’t believe that a new book by an author should ipso facto be less expensive electronically than it is in paper format.”

From the New York Times story on Amazon’s launch of the Kindle 2.

That’s one of the dumbest quotes I’ve ever read on the subject.

Of course the digital format should be cheaper. For a digital file, there’s no physical book. So no paper, printing, artwork, storage, or distribution costs. Hello! Discount it. For people that want the pretty physical object, charge them more.

This is partly why digital formats for novels, short story collections, and works of nonfiction haven’t caught on: publishers won’t embrace it. They’re fighting it in a similar way that the music industry has fought digital formats.

There’s a good (but loooong) article in Ars Technica about how digital formats for publishing are inevitable. I think the author overstates the comparison between horses vs. cars and books vs. e-books. The reason people drive cars is that they are much faster, last longer, provide shelter from the elements, and there’s no poop cleanup. A physical book is still very portable, can be lent to someone else, and can also be bought used for much less than the cover price. Physical books won’t go away anytime soon, but things are definitely changing.

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