Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Could Kindle Kill Publishing?

An interesting question, in my opinion.


Robert Walker said...

I agree. But, why should people be expected to pay the same amount for an ebook as they would for a regular book? Shouldn't the cost of something be at least somewhat based on the cost to produce it? Unless it's just a matter of greed. An ebook costs a fraction to produce compared with a regular book.

It's no different than with music. Why should someone be expected to pay more than $10 for an mp3 album on iTunes at this point? It's ridiculous. Obviously models are going to need to be adjusted, and those in all this for the money are going to have to re-think their motives and careers choices.

And no, I don't think e-readers will be the end of the publishing industry. Though, perhaps the industry as we know it. Maybe the publishing industry will go the way of the major label (in the music biz), meaning the old models will no longer apply. In fact, I don't see that not happening. But, I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. Especially from the artist's perspective. People will still write and read books, but just as with music, delivery and packaging are going to change. Those who hold on too hard to old ways will find themselves on the outside.

Dharma Kelleher said...

I don't believe it will, no more than DVDs killed television or iTunes killed the music industry.

Kindle may well have an effect on the publishing industry. But there are still a lot of hurdles Kindle must overcome including the $400 initial investment, the someone troublesome control panel and the lack of an industry standard (in terms of electronic books).

There is also the more abstract hurdles The experience of browsing titles at the local bookstore is something I don't get at And what Kindle can give the tactile satisfaction of flipping through a book.

Mind you, killing fewer trees might be a plus on the Kindle's side. But I don't see books becoming extinct any time soon.

Peace out,
Dharma Kelleher

nomadshan said...

I read almost exclusively on a handheld (Sony Cleo, not Kindle) because I can carry a great variety and number of volumes with me -- great for travel, or even waiting in line at the grocery. I agree that an electronic book should not include costs normally associated with building a physical book -- paper, ink, binding, etc. If most (all) books head to press as an electronic document, the work is already done. A few more clicks would convert the file to an ereader-friendly format, and those few extra clicks shouldn't cost several dollars, IMO.

Ryan Field said...

I think everyone is on target here. It won't kill publishing. But it will change it.

Aimless Writer said...

Die Kindle die! (oops! Was I thinking out loud again?)
I still think some people love books. They love the feel of a book in their hand.
A kindle is just another thing to break. And I stare at the computer screen enough. I don't need any more of it.

Anonymous said...

My first reaction is anger. An ebook costs nearly nothing compared to an actual printed book. The publishers are being greedy bastards. Damn right they need to cut prices.

I'm sick of being treated as a dumb customer. More pirated novels for me.

Kristi said...

I am not an expert on e-books, and as I neither work for a publishing company nor have attempted to create an e-book for sale, my comments may be far off base. What I do know, however, is technology. I'm a software developer (by day at least). I would not assume that an e-book costs less to produce than a paper book. Electronic {anythings} tend to require a lot more human labor than mechanical work. People are expensive.

If it takes 6 people at $50k a year 6 months to create the e-book format, debug it, maintain it, market it, and distribute it, then a publishing company would have spent $150k to produe the e-book. They would have to sell at least 15000 copies at $9.99 to break even. That isn't a lot for JK Rowling, but for some authors, that is a hefty price tag. That little example wouldn't include any royalties paid to the author, either.

My example may be way in left field (either way high or way low, I don't really know) but the point is this: Consumers frequently take for granted the amount of real human labor that goes into software and other electronic things. We see a stack of blank CDRW's for sale for less than $1 each, and get upset when the latest video game costs us $50.

You're not paying for the plastic, or in the case of the Kindle, for the 30 seconds of download time, folks. You're paying for the hundreds and hundreds of hours that went into creating that 30 second download.

As authors (or wannabes, like me), we need to appreciate that. Without us, the editors, the agents, and the marketers, etc, those pages would be blank. And so would those downloads.

Kate H said...

I think publishers should be willing to sell electronic content cheaper than printed books--after all, they're not bearing the cost of manufacturing.

But I hope this doesn't mean the end of printed books, because not only do I love them, but I can't afford a Kindle and I can't afford to pay $10 for every book I read (at least two or three a week). What will happen to libraries and used bookstores if printed books disappear?