With my first book coming out in January, I’ve been watching the eReader space for more than just gadget lust: I want to make sure I can keep writing books. Sure I can just write away and maybe self-publish the work, but you know I’d like to make a living at least in part, through writing. In order to do that publishers have to be able to afford to pay writers enough of an advance so we can write and not starve in the process.
So Simon and Schuster’s plan is to plug ebooks into their own special place in the publishing cycle: Four months after hardcovers. Meaning you’ll have to wait 1/3 of a year after a book’s published to read it on a Kindle or Nook or tablet or whatever. It establishes a value hierarchy, that looks, as the WSJ points out a lot like the theatrical release cycle for movies. It’s true, the movie industry has fared better than the music industry in preserving the perception of value of their content. But if you look, digital movies have slowly crept up to be same-day as DVD. They’re just really damn expensive—15 bucks.
I’m wondering then if instead of the S&S model of delaying the release of the electronic book, you release them together, but only as a set. Buy the paper, get the e-version of an extra $5. Then after a few months sell them separately. Would you buy a book like that? For a tech reference book I think I would, having a bunch of tech reference books on an ereader would be darn convenient I think. A lot easier than when I lug PHP, MySQL, UNIX, and web design books to and from class.
The whole question of format and which reader is best, man I don’t know. Sheila and I both wanted readers this Christmas, but we’ve both pulled them from our lists for now. I still want one, I just don’t know which of all the competitors are going to be best. I’m not even sure that the much-rumoured Apple-tablet would be a good option for me (heresy I know).
In the meantime I know my publisher (Pearson) is into ebooks, especially textbooks, and falling in with the Sony camp. I might just go that route so I can read my own book electronically! Until then, I’ll let you know when the box of books arrives at my doorstep (I’m thinking after the holidays).