Some eBook industry 'leaders' are starting to sound exactly like the music industry 5 years ago
I just read this very interesting piece in PaidContent.org (one of my favorite sites): "Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading Business Division... at the MediaBistro eBook Summit... decried the emphasis on the $9.99 price point for e-books. “The $9.99 price point is not a money-maker,” he said. “Certain bestsellers are sold at that price for retail, competitive reasons. But you need to have a range. You could go from $10 to $20 even to $100 for an e-book. There’s no sweet spot and it’s certainly not $9.99. When you walk into a bookstore and there are a range of prices. It should be the same for an e-book store.” Haber went on to defend the use of DRM, which he doesn’t see going away for awhile. “You need an orderly process to sell books and DRM makes that possible, mainly because it allows content creators and distributors to make money from that content"
Ouch. Have you not learned anything from happened in digital music during the past 10 years - where have you been hiding? Let me summarize it for you:
DRM is a total - and much discussed - nuisance and significant deterrent to legal consumer behavior, and it does ZERO to prevent sharing of copyrighted content online. DRM just turns users that have legal, fair and honest intentions into guinea pigs for digital rights protection schemes thought up by people who still have their emails printed for them. Wake up: protection is in the business model - not in technology. I may even concede that DRM may work in some (but increasingly rare) cases, but for books and for music...? No chance. Imho, you have to be kidding if you think these kinds of remote-controlled-rights schemes will make you any money in the future. In my opinion, anyone that still talks about DRM being a chief part of their eBook strategy should consider taking a longer vacation, and do some serious reading and thinking (sure... you could start with my own new book "Friction is Fiction" - ask me for the free PDF if needed; )
Face it: the price point for digital books has to be lower - much lower - than the price point for a real i.e. dead-tree, printed, shipped, physical book. Just because you can't seem to figure out how to reduce your costs across the board, start to add significant value in new areas and still turn a profit, that does not mean consumers will massively adopt eBook-reading at those price points (Kindle etc) or even above (as seems to be suggested above).
This looks like a very lame
rerun of the classic and most disturbing mistakes of the music industry: the incumbent market leaders really thought they could actually increase their margin as well as their ability to control the usage (!) when selling music online, i.e. have much lower distribution and marketing costs, keep the artists down to the same old, tiny percentage, and - yes ! - increase the prices on a per-track basis.
Ask yourself this simple question: what would have happened if a download had been priced at $0.20 or even 10 cents per track (or even, yes, a flat-rate), instead of $1 - would anyone still have bothered to try and download it for free, somewhere else? Could the value of those active, engaged and happy buyers be captured, and then be extended to other things you can sell them? Clearly, the answer is YES.
This is my message to the eBook industry and the publishers: do not head into the ill-fated direction of wanting to sell digital content for the same price as the physical content (or even above...ouch) - it is a pipe-dream!
Instead, make eBooks drastically cheaper, offer unique bundles and compilations, add new values all the time (cross-media anyone?), invent new packages (think mobile), and stop focusing on just selling UNITS. Flip the pricing logic before it flips you: lower prices, infinitely more engaged and legal users, and new Generatives on top!