First let me start out with the news of Random House’s ebookstore closing. If you didn’t catch the “news” feature last week, Keishon emailed me that she noticed that Random House was telling people to download their books because contentlinkinc.com was closing. I emailed Kelley Allen, Director of New Media at Random House, about the closing. He replied with this message
Thank you for your interest in ContentLinkInc.com. On November 30th 2006, our eBook store will close.
Please note that Random House Inc., strongly believes in eBooks and will continue to publish both our frontlist and backlist titles. Our titles are and will continue to be available at most eBook retailers.
If you have previously purchased a title from ContentLink, please archive the eBook file onto your computer before November 30th or you will lose access after the shutdown of the store.
Director of New Media
On the one hand, I thought the contentlink store was crappy. It never had the “new books” featured on its home page. It was hard to tell what books were new additions and what were not. On the other hand there were often books there that were no where else for sale on the net. Hopefully that will change overtime. David Rothman wondered if it signaled some softness in the ebook market or whether it was just a business model wrinkle.
It does make one wary, though, of buying ebooks because of their transitory nature. I would be less sanguine if I haven’t taken steps to protect myself. As Rothman noted, you don’t have to be worried about your paper purchases if the local Borders closes its doors.
So, in spite of that, what are publishers doing right? First off, they are releasing their books in an eformat. This is key because not all books are being released in eformat so that means you have to convert it to eformat yourself (and the legalities of this is still iffy) or obtain an illegally eformatted copy and truly most people do not want to go there. Most people want to buy their music, books, movies legally. Steve Jobs believes it. I believe it.
Second I think that there are two major publishers who deserve recognition for doing something right in the ebook marketplace:
Simon&Schuster does two things for ebook readers. It prices all of its ebooks at 40% off. This takes away the sting of the ability to resell, trade or swap ebooks and lessens the burn of losing your books in a harddrive malfunction or some other such digital catastrophe. The second thing it does is release one or more books a month as an early release – before the paper version is in the stores.
HarperCollins isn’t pricing its ebooks as favorably as Simon & Schuster and it isn’t releasing its ebooks weeks in advance but it has put out more romance ebooks than any other major publisher. According to Jane Friedman, HarperCOllins has digitized over 12,000 of its backlist titles. I know every month a different Avon author sees the digital release of her backlist. This is great for readers like me who want their entire book collection reduced from paper to bytes. Avon also does a great job of releasing its new titles in ebook format. There are few romance books that are published by Avon that are not also in ebook format.
Unfortunately, that’s it for what I think major publishers are doing right in the ebook area. What do you readers think?
Next week: What new york publishers are doing wrong with ebooks