Tradpubs are doing digital only imprints
Paperbooks are still largely done by tradpubs (traditional publishers). If you are an author and are going to be your own publisher, you are likely going to go with an e-book. Yes, you can use print-on-demand options, like Amazon’s
However, if you walk into a brick-and-mortar bookstore, the vast majority of the p-books you see will have been published by tradpubs.
If newly published p-books are going to be mass-produced, it’s likely going to depend on those traditional publishers.
That’s part of why it’s very interesting to see those tradpubs moving into e-book only imprints.
If that works really well, we could see the end of 100,000 print runs…maybe even 10,000.
That has all sorts of implications.
What does it do to brick-and-mortar stores?
What does it do to the used book market?
What does it do to p-book prices?
If very few books have large runs, it means that most bookstores won’t be able to have thousands of titles. It may make competition between stores just to be able to carry titles higher, and may make the “destination” bookstore the one that survives.
It might also mean that p-books are only a small feature in another kind of store…and that they could be a lot more expensive.
by Jim Milliot, Calvin Reid, Gabe Habash, and Rachel Deahl is a good survey of what tradpubs are doing with digital imprints.
An imprint, by the way, is a specialized line of books within a publisher.
Publishers are doing e-books only both not only for original books, but also for the “long tail” of older books.
I’m going to suggest you check out the article, but I do want to call out one interesting strategy.
F+W Media is doing an “all you can plan” for e-romances:
You can subscribe to the site for either $12.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
For that amount, you get online access to all of the books at the site…no restrictions.
New books are added each week.
While it’s not entirely clear to me, it appears that you can only read them online for that price, although they do talk about downloading.
I’ve talked about subscription services as a possibility before, but this is one way to put it into practice. You don’t own the books, by the way…if you stop subscribing, you don’t have access to them.
I’ve been careful in this post to talk about “mass-produced” p-books. The PW article gives you details about when there might be print runs (and what the royalties for authors are…sell more, get more, for one thing), but it also talks about print-on-demand.
Print-on-demand doesn’t have the economy of scale of a full print run though. Oh, I probably should define those terms. When a publisher does a “print run”, a certain number of copies are printed, basically at the same time. They do that before they know how many will actually sell…and they do end up buying back copies (usually for store credit…at least, that’s how it worked when I managed a bookstore) that don’t sell.
Print-on-demand doesn’t print a book until you know there is a sale. Less economy of csale…but less waste as well.
Does that balance out?
Not at all! CreateSpace p-books are much more expensive, from what I’ve seen, than their e-book counterparts.
Here are a few examples for you:
The Fallen Star (Fallen Star Series Book 1) $0.99 as an e-book, $14.99 p-book
Informed Consent $0.99 as an e-book, $11.99 p-book
Out of the Black $4.95 as an e-book, $17.99 p-book
I just looked at the most popular Kindle store books “published by CreateSpace”, and pulled out a few.
As you can see, a POD book, at least in this case, is typically ten dollars or more than the e-book.
I’ve shared with you before my reader Roger Knights’ ideas on print-on-demand machines in stores.
If those could be done profitably (which both requires them to be able to produce the books inexpensively enough and have the books and the experience that shoppers want), that would be another challenge to traditional large print runs.
I think if I worked in a giant “book factory”, I’d be a bit concerned.
What do you think? Are the days of the traditional publisher doing huge print runs on the way out? Would you pay for an all-you-can-read program? What if the books were only available for you to read online? Will e-publishing imprints bring back out-of-print books…could someone revive the Ace Doubles that way, for example? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.