Hachette Chief’s concerns
There are quite a few juicy nuggets in the article. First, there’s the pointing blame at Google and Amazon –
Mr Nourry (Hachette CEO) said unilateral pricing by Google, Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Barnes & Noble could destroy publishers’ profits.
He said publishers were “very hostile” to Amazon’s pricing strategy.
Next, there’s the attack on the $9.99 price point –
On the one hand, you have millions of books for free where there is no longer an author to pay and, on the other hand, there are very recent books, bestsellers at $9.99, which means that all the rest will have to be sold at between zero and $9.99.
Retailers were paying publishers more than $9.99 for each e-book, so were selling them at a loss:
“That cannot last . . . Amazon is not in the business of losing money. So, one day, they are going to come to the publishers and say: by the way, we are cutting the price we pay.
If that happens, after paying the authors, there will be nothing left for the publishers.”
These thoughts might be relevant to Publishers, especially ones that don’t adapt to changing times. However, the claim that it could kill hardcovers is incorrect.
Hardcovers are not going to die out
There are a lot of people who love books as physical objects and for all the benefits –
- The sensations of reading and holding and feeling a physical book.
- Adding life to your environs; adding to your library; decorating shelves.
- Letting people know who you are, and signaling things like intelligence and taste.
And many more.
In a world that has a lot of eReaders, hardcovers will keep their position as higher end reading means, will be collected for personal libraries and will morph into even more cherished possessions.
We currently have lots of generations that have very strong associations with hardcovers. If current publishers don’t clean up their act, some new company will spring up to provide reasonably priced hardcovers.
The long term concern for hardcovers would be when the first ‘used kindle and sony in school’ generations start entering the market.
- They would have no positive association with physical books.
- On the contrary, they would be attached to their ereaders.
That is when hardcovers could start dying out – although its not a given, and its at least 40-50 years away.