GigaOM reported today on a Wall Street Journal article that asks the question as to whether traditional publishing houses really know what they’re doing when it comes to setting the price of digital editions of their titles. For the most part, the answer seems to be an overwhelming no.
The article hastened to point out that the Big Six and Apple are being investigated on two continents for reports of ebook price fixing in an effort to oust bookselling giant Amazon, a purported arrangement that, if true, backfired in a monumental way. Not only did it possibly result in sanctions from anti-trust violations, but it kept the ebook prices overly inflated to the end that reading consumers opted for print editions that had similar price points but that carried with them enormous printing and shipping costs meaning a smaller profit for the publisher.
Possibly the saddest statement surrounding the publishing industry was from a senior vice president at Hachette who was quoted in the article by effectively stating that readers have come to realize that value of digital editions of books and are therefore willing to pay a higher price for them. That is either serious wishful thinking or merely lip service to protect the industry’s stance on pricing. The wealth of books from the various ebook distribution platforms selling at an under-three-dollar price point—and many of those selling for under one dollar—speaks to what readers are willing to pay for digital titles, especially from newer authors. A different industry professional even went so far as to suggest that the high prices for traditionally published ebooks may even be driving consumers to seek out indie authors’ works.
As always, some of the most interesting points were raised by commenters on the article. Several were quick to point out that the music industry has already suffered through the calamity of the digital revolution and has managed to adapt. Others wondered how the publishers don’t seem to be aware of what the tech and business sectors see happening with ebooks. But the consensus among the writers and the readers was that the traditional publishing model is on its way out if it cannot meet the digital needs of its own consumers.