Monday, April 4, 2011

Books and Tech.

It's interesting that when all was said and done, both the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle are putting up paywalls.

I'm convinced that after much future damage to the marketplace and their own profits, the book publishers will realize that going full blast into digital wasn't perhaps the smartest move, and will retreat back to selling "book-books."

Just a guess.

It may not work -- for either newspapers or books, but it's probably their only chance of being profitable.


Speaking of the N.Y. Times. The book review now has 15 different bestseller lists over 6 pages.

My reaction is: Never mind.

I guess I don't want to know THAT much.

I understand that they want to be more precise, give e-books their due, and I'm sure they are annoyed by the way books like Harry Potter can completely dominate the lists for years -- but really, overkill?


Broofa makes a compelling case that e-books will take over on his Bend Tech blog.

As someone who doesn't even own a cellphone, I may be the worst person the gauge the effect of a new gadget.

As a store owner who has watched entire product lines disappear or diminish to alarming extents, I may be the best person to gauge.

If e-books reach pogs or anime or beanie babies level of abandonment, paper books are doomed. If they reach sports cards level of diminution , there may be a few survivors.

Yet I still sell sports cards, and even the occasional anime. I sell boardgames and card games despite the huge video game industry. I sell comics and books, despite the ready availability and cheaper prices in the mass market and the internet.

So, I don't believe I'm underestimating the impact, just saying that I think there will be ways to negotiate the process. There will be compensating factors along the way -- perhaps cheaper prices, increasing marketshare, and so on.

My guess is that the hugest impact will be on new hardcover bestsellers -- which in a way is a sign that the publishing industry was going off the rails already -- the prices have gotten pretty outrageous.

I still think they'll co-exist. Both e-books and book-books. Something like the way the movie industry still exists, despite T.V., and radio still exists, despite T.V. The cost structures will shake themselves out, new formats will be created, hybrids will spring up.

I feel like I'm pretty good at negotiating these hazards -- I've had lots of practice. So I think I can be pretty nimble...

At least over the next 3 to 8 years...

Interesting times...


Anonymous said...

It's funny. The NY Times already put up a paywall several years ago. I paid $50 to be able to access the opinion pages, etc.

Then for some unknown reason they took down the paywall after about 11 months, and even refunded some of my money.

Now they're doing it again, and I'm going to take a wait and see approach.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"I still think they'll co-exist. Both e-books and book-books."

I agree.