Yesterday we looked at Amazon’s latest move in their stand-off with Penguin (Pearson Group) over negotiations on the implementation of the agent model on e-books by the major publishing houses. Amazon have reduced some new penguin titles in hardback to $9.99 to telegraph to their customers that they want control and flexibility on retail pricing rather than be under constraints imposed by the agreements they have with publishers.
Amazon know publishers are deeply uneasy about the future for hardback books as the lead format release for a new title, and while Amazon are taking the hit on a $9.99 discount, they are send a very clear signal out to their customers—we’re on the side of the of the customer and just look at what these publisher guys are trying to do to us.
I questioned the real resolve major publishers have to get behind the development and promotion of their e-book strategy, and while this year’s London Book Fair came and went in a whisper, last year’s Fair underlined for me the first inkling I had that UK publishers were just not willing to embrace e-books in the way they needed to. My feeling now is this reluctance may actually extend to many US publishers, who may like to be seen to be actively behind the steady rise in e-book sales, but secretly they are hoping the market levels and bottoms in the next couple of years so they can revert back to their tried, trusted and sacred printed book. I commented yesterday on the resolve of publishers to seeing e-books take off.
“I have one overriding feeling about the agency model adopted by the major publishers in their agreements reached so far with Amazon – whose executives have spent many an hour locked away behind polished doors – and it is the belief that publishers are still not wholeheartedly behind the growth and development of e-books. What I see is the battle for control rather than any innovation and prosperity for e-books.”
Judith Rosen, of Publishers Weekly, on Friday, highlighted the approach of Circlet Publishing in the USA, a small press run by Cecelia Tan and her husband, Corwin, since 1992. Three years ago they had to stop publishing print editions of their titles due to a financial downturn, and instead, in an effort to revitalise the business, they focussed on e-books for their science fiction erotica lists. Tan never saw the move as a means to become an e-book publisher, but an effort to rescue Circlet Press. She told Rosen in the Publishers Weekly article:
"There’s still no replacement for the ‘real’ book. Three years ago Circlet was essentially dead in the water. Bookstores weren’t ordering in the quantity they used to. There’s been a real shrinkage of the erotica shelf. [In 2008] That’s when I taught myself to format for the Kindle.”
Through a mix of fundraising campaigns on www.circlet.com, Tan hopes to raise $5,000 for Circlet Press’ first printed book in three years by creating a CD compendium edition of twenty of their best e-books. It was interesting that Angela Hoy of Booklocker.com commented of the article on Publishers Weekly. Booklocker were a pioneer of selling e-books online way back in 1998. In fact, Booklocker did not sell their first printed edition until a year later.