Publishing Industry Sea Change
It is prudent to keep up with the trends and developments in the publishing industry, especially in these times of sea change. I scan a half dozen newsletters and blogs daily to try to keep up with the publishing industry. One would wish that the Department of Justice and Judge Denise Cote had done so as well. Then perhaps, she would have presided more wisely over the prosecution of Apple in the ebook price fixing trial.
Were Judge Cote to see one of today’s Digital Book World headlines: “the average price of a best-selling ebook jumped almost a dollar to $7.71, up from $6.77 last week” she would immediately sanction Apple and have her personal watchdog probe their executive ranks for the perpetrators.
But clearly neither Judge Cote nor the Department of Justice studies the industry. They instead make a predetermined guilty ruling, deny even simple motions by Apple, dismiss Apple’s expert witnesses, and carry on a classic case of blind justice. In the end it will benefit no one and may
Indeed, the average price of ebook bestsellers fluctuates constantly. The previous week, Digital Book World reported “the average price of a best-selling ebook dipped slightly to $6.77 from $7.08 last week.” This must have been because of the measures Judge Cote is pressing on Apple and the publisher codefendants. NOT.
It seems it is marketplace factors that are causing the fluctuation in ebook prices. Both up and down. The determination of the retail prices for ebooks is being made by publishers and self-published authors. And there are trends you can count on… ebooks released by any of the imprints of the big five publishers reflect the costs of doing business the corporate way (PR, promotion, author support). These retail prices will generally range from $5.99 on the low end to $11.99 and up to $18.99. Self published ebooks, by previously unpublished authors and unknown writers will be priced at $0.99. If the author has some success and develops a following, they might self publish a third or fourth ebook at $2.99 to $4.99. But it is only a few “hybrid” authors (an author who has been published in print buy a big company imprint, who also self publishes some of his new or older works) who ever cross the price lines between self published and big company published. That’s the way of the industry right now.
Regardless of price, online ebook sales continue to be dominated by Amazon and they have gotten a nice boost while Judge Cote raps Apple’s knuckles. That will only lead to more turmoil in the industry and one might see an antitrust case against Amazon in the future, except Amazon’s defense could be it’s all the fault of the DoJ and the courts.