It is almost 2010 and despite the rose-colored glasses being handed out by the Amazon PR team, eBooks and print-to-digital products still have a ways to go before becoming mainstream and major streams of revenue. This post is also serving to round out some views I’ve passed along via Twitter recently and in reply to V.Sandbrook.
Publishers need to bundle their products. Period. It’s simple and can require very little extra cost (production wise) beyond putting together a printed book. There are too many services and tech solutions to name, so I’m going to put forth just a basic outline of a bundling option that a publisher might offer. Bundling accomplishes two things:
- keeps the customer first; it allows the reader to access the content how they prefer
- it increases the margin of every book sale, ever so slightly
So, I think publishers should really start to look at their product offerings and seeing if they can’t offer something like the following.
1. Print Book – been around for hundreds of years. Everyone knows the business model. Amazon seems to discount much of publishers’ backlists by 20%-30%. So if possible the publisher should discount their books on their own direct-to-consumer website by 25%.
2. Print Book + Digital Edition – This bundle would be made available on the publisher’s direct-to-consumer site. Basically, you’re selling the printed book and a “smaller file size” version of the pdf you sent to press. So no more work is created, in offering this. A consumer is then faced with the following decision: do I buy the print book for 25%-off and have it delivered to my doorstep in two weeks or do I simply pay cover price for the print book, which is what I would pay in the bookstore, which gets the book delivered in two weeks, but I can also immediately download the pdf and start reading now.
3. Enhanced Digital Edition – This is a $9.99 offer designed to compete with device-dependent eBooks. The publisher would basically be selling their “to press” pdf, but with color photos, a hyper-linked TOC, maybe added audio snippets, an extra “links on the web” section, video, etc. Anything you can add to a current pdf to add value to it, to justify the higher price for a pdf-only download. Your readers deserve it. You have the content. Get it off the edit-room floor and add value to the digital book.
4. Device-Dependent eBooks – these are your Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, etc. files. They need to be out there and in the catalogs. Let the device makers do the marketing for you. I really think these will come and go, but the amount of infrastructure in place here really makes it a great sales channel for 2010. Most of these are in the $9.99 price range.
5. Mobile Apps – you have to start looking mobile. It doesn’t matter if you publish fiction or non-fiction. There are many ereading devices out there, but many people already have a device they love. And it fits right in their pocket, their phone. The mobile ereaders are getting better and better. So publishers better have a plan in place, if not already in the mobile space, by the end of 2010. Just check out some of the cool things that Stanza, Kobo,Aldiko and Vook are doing. They all rock. Publishers need to start seeing .epub, .mobi and .prc appearing somewhere in their workflow. The earlier in the publishing process those files appear, the better.
So that’s it. A quick rundown of how a small publisher might offer one book to the world. It’s by no means a definitive list of the possibilities.
But it does only get better. What happens if you have a “hot” book? Imagine if the book hits shelves in March, what would rabid fans or curious consumers pay for a pdf copy one month earlier? Would the same pdf be worth a higher price pre-pub and then a lower price after the book came out? Pretty cool topic for another post on some other day, I think. Not too mention what happens once you invite XML-tagging to the party.
If you have any digital product strategies that are working for you or that you have seen and are a fan of, please share!