Blog Post

e-Book Echo: Consumers Fight Back; ASUS Reader Coming

Our platform focus continues this fine Sunday with the e-Book Echo, our take on the week in the digital publishing world. Publishers are learning the hard way that consumers are willing to pay for what they want, and more importantly they don’t like for companies to push them around. That’s what consumers felt was happening when a number of publishers recently stated they would delay the release of e-book versions of best sellers in an attempt to get consumers to buy the expensive hardcover books instead. This is nothing new, having purchased e-books for a decade I can remember when e-book versions of top sellers followed the paper versions by months. What is new is how consumers are fighting back. A few publishers, HarperCollins among them, have seen a number of their books get stuck with one-star reviews on Amazon to mark displeasure at the delay of the Kindle version.

The folks that gave us the netbook are preparing to enter what is becoming a crowded field of e-book readers. The ASUS DR-570 will have a 6-inch screen and the company is claiming it will provide 122 hours of reading on a battery charge. While Eee-Reader sounds better than DR-570, ASUS is raising the bar by including a color OLED screen, and the integrated 3G and Wi-Fi will come in handy to get Flash content that can be played.  There is no word on what this jewel might cost.

9 Responses to “e-Book Echo: Consumers Fight Back; ASUS Reader Coming”

  1. borax99 (AlainC.)

    Haven’t seen anything about Sony users fighting back – ever since the store’s conversion to epub – **every single title** has ragged right margins. A giant leap backwards, and I have stopped buying anything from their store.

    • Depends on your preferences I guest. I prefer ragged right margins to widely varying spacing to get aligned right margins.

      However, a better approach would be to have a reader that allows you to chose how you want the text formatted. Smart reflow is a pretty basic requirement, to support different font sizes, not to mention different screen sizes.

  2. If the publishers don’t release ebooks in a timely fashion (ie at the same time they release the hardcover), 3rd partys will do it for them. This is already happening for the larger releases (J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Robert Jordan, John Grisham, to name a few). If it continues, consumers will get used to using alternate channels to find ebooks.

    It is not protecting their hard cover sales, since most of the ebook buyers, will not buy the hard cover anyways. Most would buy the ebook if it is available in a timely fashion. However, if they can get it months earlier, the publisher will loose the book sale.

    Some publishers get this… Baen even offers early access to almost ready books (their ARC program – Advanced Reader Copies – get you an early copy that is mostly ready for publishing, but might still have some typos, etc) and sells it at a premium price, $15 for the ARC, $6 for a regular ebook. Brilliant marketing that… Ebooks are available at the same time as hard covers. Heck, many of their hard covers come with a CD which includes the authors back titles as ebooks.

    and some do not… Tor goes the delayed route and all their hot titles are available in days or weeks on the black market.

    Which do you thing generates more revenue for the publisher?

    Book readers are funny. They will vote with their wallets and support the authors and publishers that support them. They will also actively campaign against those who don’t support them. The voting on Amazon is just one example of this.

  3. Think of these publishers like those folks who are resistant to change. Example? LP fans. Society has moved onto lighter (can’t carry it), cheaper, and more user friendly forms of albums and songs. You can’t convince an LP lover that it’s not worth all the hassle. I’m sure if you look around, you can find some folks who swear the horse and buggy is by far the best form or transportation.

  4. Eddie W.

    It’s truly mind-boggling how clueless these media companies are. For some reason, they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that those who would buy a hardback (or a CD or a DVD) will buy the hardback (or CD or DVD) but those who will buy an e-version (or rent like with Netflix) most likely won’t buy a physical version. I’m in the second camp. I haven’t purchased a physical book or DVD or CD in many years, but I’ll buy any of them in e-format in a heartbeat. My take is that they are just going to lose money. Hey, here’s an idea: Maybe we should let them go ahead — if they lose enough money from these insipid plans, perhaps they would wake up!

  5. I don’t like the delayed publication of e-book editions by publishers either and I don’t think it’s a smart move. But neither is giving a book a one star rating because someone is unhappy with the publisher. I doubt this will have much of an impact on the publishers at this time but it could really hurt an author or a book unjustly. Consumers should just write directly to the publisher with their complaints about this issue.


  6. Yep, color me hoodwinked. I bought the Kindle version of Game Change this weekend and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t available for download. I didn’t notice when it would be available. D’oh. I guess I should be glad that it’s simply available in ‘e’ at all.