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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Newsflash: Editor eats foot!

The New York Times reported yesterday on the arrival of the newest version of Amazon’s Kindle. Buried in the text of the story was this dismal quote from Carolyn Reidy:
"We do not agree with their pricing strategy," said Carolyn K. Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster. "I don’t believe that a new book by an author should ipso facto be less expensive electronically than it is in paper format."
Publishers seem to be committed to sawing off their own legs. The economy of electronic publishing should be a no-brainer. It is also the answer to getting people reading again. When a potential customer can download a book from where they sit for a lower cost than buying a physical book in a store, the economy of scale kicks back in, and the cost of putting together that book lowers for every copy sold. This could also be a way of getting around the tax on inventory that publishers face. Maybe publishers have been losing money for so long they can’t think of anything else but a shrinking audience. It would be terrible if Amazon became the principle publisher of texts in this world, instead of people who love words. But it’s time for them to read the writing on the wall. Electronic publishing is finally here. It’s already being embraced by retailers like Amazon and by the reading public. Would that the publishers would embrace it, too.

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