Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WSJ Wednesdays - Ebook Readers

Today I am launching another new feature titled, WSJ Wednesdays. My husband calls The Wall Street Journal a grown-up's paper. Our local paper didn't provide the type of news he was looking for, so he turned in some of our credit card rewards for a free 39-week subscription. I didn't think I would read it much, but it often publishes articles on the book publishing industry--and of course it has that huge review section once a week.

I've been pulling out articles that caught my eye. I'll talk about these articles and hopefully you'll chime in with your thoughts too.

In the December 15th edition (Vol. CCLVIII No. 141) the front page had an article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg titled, "E-Book Readers Face Sticker Shock." Trachtenberg's article discusses the soaring prices of e-books. He states in some cases, the price of top selling e-books is within a few dollars of or could even be more than the printed versions. The reason according to this article is a decision by the six biggest publishers to set their own "consumer e-book prices," which doesn't allow retailers to discount these books without their permission. Trachtenberg states that some industry executives believe this may be hurting e-book sales, and goes on to say that Lorraine Shanley, a publishing industry consultant says the higher price might encourage consumers to try self-published works.

I found Trachtenberg's article fascinating. As a writer, I have to admit I've considered self-publishing. While stories of writers making a big splash with self-published works that draw the attention of literary agents are few and far between, the appeal in getting a book to market faster and having greater control is encouraging. The higher royalty rates aren't too shabby either. That said, I've hesitated to move in that direction. There is great value in having an agent to represent your interests in a competitive market. I just received my second rejection from a literary agent in the past three months. It's an uphill battle, but I plan to continue.

As a reader, I tend to look at e-book version prices very closely. If I can get a printed copy of a book from a favorite author for a few dollars more, I'll opt for that instead of a Kindle version. The majority of books on my Kindle cost me under $5.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. If an e-book is priced close to a printed version do you buy the printed one instead? How has the lower price point of self-published books impacted your buying decisions? Are you willing to give an unknown author a chance if his book is priced $2.99 or under? How about free e-books? Do you pick up a lot of those?

Thanks for sharing your opinions.

Note: You can find a video on the WSJ site where Trachtenberg discusses this issue by clicking here.

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