Friday, August 25, 2006

News: Amazon's Digital Platform. Book Pricing. Harlequin. Cody's Bookstore.

There is an interesting article in The Economist this week about what Amazon is up to and how they face a very real threat of being disintermediated relative to digital music, video and book content. Some of this story has been discussed before because in their last financial report they recorded significantly less net income because of materially higher spending in technology. Analysts have speculated that the company is readying itself for the provision of non-physical content and they are building some type of platform (my term) for delivery of this. The unsaid aspect of The Economist article seems to imply that since no one at Amazon is talking about this that some announcement is imminent.

I thought this article about comments made by Sumner Redstone was relevant to book publishers and their approach to pricing. Publishers are too rigid in the manner in which prices are set and managed. As digital publishing becomes more prevalent and deeper knowledge and understanding of how markets work - via The Long Tail type analysis - these trends should almost force a rethink about how books are priced. It would seem to me, that a rigid approach to pricing results in lost revenue. As we all know, airlines are masters at the yield curve and this is not to say publishers should be that sophisticated but if they adopt more flexible approaches to pricing it could result in all kinds of impact on remainders, returns, the second hand market and so on. For example, could a publisher 'recover' a portion of the used book market by offering new copies at market rate prices (plus a small premium for new)? This would be long after initial release of the title. Would buyers by willing to pay a little more than the used price for a new book especially if they knew that in doing so the author would receive a share of the purchase price whereas with the used copy they do not? This idea is not a new idea nor is it a panacea but I think it suggests some market testing.

I hate to harp on this, but this company with one of the strongest brands in publishing and with a huge market opportunity staring them in the face still seems weak kneed and hesitant.
My other blog on this.

Cody's Bookstore in Berkeley a famed independent for many years closed recently. Here is a perspective on what went wrong. It reflects more than a bookstore issue.

Lastly, watchers of the Booker List will note three Australian authors made the long list. As far as I can gather - no comment from The Australian newspaper regarding their 'gotcha story' about Patrick White and the in ability of great Australian writers to get published.

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