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Mark Coker Predicts Drop In Ebook Prices

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  • joseph harris
    [Mark Coker commenting where his expertise is lacking. As so often we have here a prediction based on very narrow experience of publishing; so much of his
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 1, 2011
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      [Mark Coker commenting where his expertise is lacking. As so often we have here a prediction based on very narrow experience of publishing; so much of his comment is very true for a limited area, but untrue for the bulk of the market. The problem is that this approach stifles new works that don't work in the 'meatgrinder' concept.]


      Smashwords Founder Mark Coker Predicts Drop In Ebook Prices
      ------------------------------
      Now that the major publishers have fixed their prices, it's the
      retailers who need the help
      http://www.booktrade.info/i.php/31731
      http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/qa-smashwords-founder-mark-coker-analyzes-ebook-prices_b5394





      Joseph Harris is Smile Poet
      Mailing list smilepoet-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
      http://smilepoet.com smilepoet@...

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Chris
      ... I ve read this article three times now, and I m having trouble figuring out which of a number of Mark Coker s comments you are referring to. He seems to be
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 1, 2011
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        --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, "joseph harris" wrote:

        > [Mark Coker commenting where his expertise is lacking. As so often we have here a prediction based on very narrow experience of publishing; so much of his comment is very true for a limited area, but untrue for the bulk of the market. The problem is that this approach stifles new works that don't work in the 'meatgrinder' concept.]

        I've read this article three times now, and I'm having trouble figuring out which of a number of Mark Coker's comments you are referring to.

        He seems to be doing a fine job of precisely limiting the scope of his forecasts to areas of expertise, namely, things that Smashwords has actually done.

        It sounds like he would suggest varying the approach depending on the type of work. If he isn't going to recommend using one approach for all works, how does that approach stifle new works?

        :: chris smith :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
      • joseph harris
        From: Chris ... ... Chris, In a way you make my point yourself. And my post Four Reasons Why The Sales Growth Of E-books Will Be Slower Than Industry
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 3, 2011
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          From: "Chris"
          "joseph harris" wrote:
          >
          >> [Mark Coker commenting where his expertise is lacking. As so often we have here a prediction based on very narrow experience of publishing;
          <snip>
          > I've read this article three times now, and I'm having trouble figuring out which of a number of Mark Coker's comments you are referring to.
          >
          > He seems to be doing a fine job of precisely limiting the scope of his forecasts to areas of expertise, namely, things that Smashwords has actually done.
          >
          > It sounds like he would suggest varying the approach depending on the type of work. If he isn't going to recommend using one approach for all works, how does that approach stifle new works?
          >
          > :: chris smith :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

          Chris,

          In a way you make my point yourself. And my post "Four Reasons Why The Sales Growth Of E-books Will Be Slower Than Industry Executives Think" links to some part of the answer to the point.

          First, I think Mark Coker does an excellent job within his specifics - processing, marketing and retailing ebooks. For him number of outlets and number of sales are the targets. For this reason he believes that ebook prices should come down, and predicts it.

          The arguments around that have a major flaw in logic that is on the blind side of ebook proponents. While there is no doubt that ebooks [even if a difficult group to define well] will continue to grow in absolute numbers, it is unlikely to dominate publishing for a long time to come, if at all - my own forecast is around a 50-50 split.

          There are many reasons for this, which circle mostly around the issue of new books, and of the numbers relating to classics and other out of copyright works - aka public domain. As the article linked i nthe other post I refer to above points out, most ebooks at the moment are piggy-backing as versions of already published works; in other words the costs of publishing, apart from format, have already been invested. That is true of synchronised publication now also. Gutenberg and other generous scanning organisations do not charge users for their considerable work in digitising, which also distorts wider understandings of cost.

          And this is the blind side argument I referred to. If ebooks were to become the only way, then there is nothing to piggy-back on. In other words any costs must be recovered from the ebook. Some proponents, and that creeps into Coker's comments, believe there are no costs in digital publishing. Unfortunately that is far from true. And a concept not denied because some people produce works without the effort needed to make them truly marketable. Should the ebook become the only book formats, then their prices would have to rise to somewhere remarkably close to the print book they replace.

          And while some people are able to put a decent work on sale without paying out, the great majority will seek professional help or publishers. Even do-it-yourself is very expensive in time and effort.

          Genre, niche and purpose of book seem to have a big effect on the route for books; thus novels - especially romance - appear to be gravitating to ebooks, while teach- and do-it- yourself books seem to be staying as a largely print product. Reference works are showing an interesting divergence; The full OED [20 outsize volumes] may no longer be viable in print, or even as ebooks, rather becoming an online index of words; the Encyclopaedia Britannica has gone the same way. Small dictionaries in print seen to spawn almost daily.

          Forecasting is a dangerous activity, and much of it today is digital-centric. I was reminded the other day that the supposed on-its-knees music industry still has over half the total market - in the form of discs and other physical products. This may cause a problem for the retail end, but it is far from a destruction of the old industry which one would understand to have happened from the words of most gurus. Similarly, book publishing is still, and will almost certainly remain, a largely physical business.

          Joseph
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