Friday, October 23, 2009

Publishers Delaying Electronic Editions of Major Titles
By Motoko Rich in The New York Times

The approach of the holiday gift-buying season — the most important time of the year for booksellers — is prompting several publishers to withhold electronic book editions of some of the biggest books of the year.
The e-book version of Stephen King’s latest novel, “Under the Dome,” will be released several weeks after the hardcover is published.
Scribner, a unit of Simon & Schuster, announced on Wednesday that it would release the e-book of Stephen King’s latest novel, “Under the Dome,” several weeks after the hardcover is published on Nov. 10. The e-book will go on sale at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24.
In a statement, Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster, wrote, “Given the current state of the marketplace and trends in digital book pricing, we believe that this is the most appropriate publishing sequence for this particular 1,088-page work of fiction.”
Mr. King wrote in an e-mail message that the delay “seems like the right course for the smaller bookstores.”
Publishers are debating the timing of e-books in part because they are not sure what their ultimate effect on hardcover sales will be. Because e-books generally sell for less than hardcover books — a hardcover typically sells for $25 to $35, while the most common price for a new or bestselling e-book has quickly become $9.99 — publishers don’t want to risk cannibalizing hardcover sales.
And in deference to independent booksellers who don’t have a presence in the e-book world, they want to give those stores a chance to sell as many copies of the hardcover edition as possible during the holiday season.

Partly for that reason, HarperCollins had also previously announced that it would withhold the e-book edition of “Going Rogue,” Sarah Palin’s memoir, until Dec. 26. The hardcover edition will be published on Nov. 17.
Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing that published Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s memoir, “True Compass,” in September, has yet to set a date for the release of an e-book version. “We haven’t made any decision yet,” Cary Goldstein, a spokesman, wrote in an e-mail message.
Publishers are making decisions about e-books on a title-by-title basis. At HarperCollins, a spokeswoman said that the publisher would release e-book versions of two other hotly anticipated books, Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Lacuna” and Michael Crichton’s “Pirate Latitudes,” on the same day that those books are released as hardcovers.
Meanwhile, a price war between Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target has currently reduced the online price of hardcover editions of titles including “Under the Dome” and “Going Rogue” to less than $9. Customers who preorder these titles on can get the hardcover editions for $8.98.

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