May 18, 2009

Content, Pricing and Markets [8:35 am]

A couple of articles on the business of e-content:

  • Steal This Book (for $9.99) (pdf)

    Just how much is a good read worth?

    David Baldacci, the best-selling thriller author, learned what some of his fans think when “First Family,” his latest novel, went on sale last month. Amazon initially charged a little over $15 for a version for its Kindle reading device, and readers revolted.

    Several posted reviews objecting that the electronic edition of the book wasn’t selling for $9.99, the price Amazon has promoted as its target for the majority of e-books in the Kindle store. Hundreds more have joined an informal boycott of digital books priced at more than $9.99.

    “I love Baldacci’s writing,” wrote one reader, who decided not to buy. “Sorry Mr. B — price comes down or you lose a lot or readers. I’ll skip your books and move on!”

    It was a chilling sentiment for authors and publishers, who have grown used to an average cover price of $26 for a new hardcover. Now, in the evolving Kindle world, $9.99 is becoming the familiar price. But is that justified just because paper has been removed from the equation?

  • Scribd Invites Writers to Upload Work and Name Their Price (pdf)

    Turning itself into a kind of electronic vanity publisher, Scribd, an Internet start-up here, will introduce on Monday a way for anyone to upload a document to the Web and charge for it.

    The Scribd Web site is the most popular of several document-sharing sites that take a YouTube-like approach to text, letting people upload sample chapters of books, research reports, homework, recipes and the like. Users can read documents on the site, embed them in other sites and share links over social networks and e-mail.

    In the new Scribd store, authors or publishers will be able to set their own price for their work and keep 80 percent of the revenue. They can also decide whether to encode their documents with security software that will prevent their texts from being downloaded or freely copied.

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