I mentioned the Blair book a while ago.

The publisher is well respected in the industry and was interviewed by Media Guardian earlier this week:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/sep/13/gail-rebuck-tony-blair-random-house

This is an interesting article for lots of reasons – Tony Blair was PM for a long time and there is a lot of controversy around him. But my interest here is in digital publishing.

So , from where I’m coming from, one of the more interesting aspects of the interview is where Gail Rebuck says in 10 years time digital will make up “25-30% of revenue” for Random House.

I respect her a lot – she is head of Random House and you don’t get there by accident, but I think she is wrong on this one.

But hey, time will tell.

One of the biggest concerns in publishing at the moment is what effect the rise of digital media will have on physical books.

I have been advocating for some time that the most pronounced change will be a reduction in paper back sales as the sale of digital books rise. But this will be coupled with a rise in the sale of quality hardbacks. The theory being that if you read a reasonably priced digital book (US $1.99 or so) and really, really love it, you will buy a high end quality real  book to have in your house.

An article about Oprah and books on the BBC website tends to back this up:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11260600

Particularly the paragraph:

“One of the early titles she recommended, from the back list of a well-known author, was only available in paperback. Oprah expressed the view strongly on her show that the work ought to be made available in an inexpensive hardback, since that was what her audience wanted – a book to keep.”

The real issue I have so far with the change to digital books is that from what I can tell the publishers are reluctent to reduce the cost of the work.

For example Tony Blair’s autobiography (apparently the quickest selling such book since records began) is priced £12.50 on Amazon hardback and £6.99 as a download to your Kindle:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Journey/dp/B0040GJJUW/ref=sr_1_36?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1284469231&sr=8-36

This Amazon link also says the rrp for both hardback and digital is £25.00 – 25 quid for the hardback OR the digital file!

As I recall CD singles used to cost £1.99 – £3.99 whereas Apple pretty much destroyed the concept with iTunes selling the digital versions for under a quid.

I have a feeling publishers will need to adapt to this kind of paradigm shift in their business in order to survive the shift to digital.

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