Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Change of habit

Once we dismiss the unfortunate cover of this week's Publisher's Weekly -- Afro Picks!, which features an African-American model wearing a forest of afro picks displaying Black Power fists (o, my) -- and head inside the issue, it turns out that there is some good news for book lovers.

When I say "book lovers," I mean those people who actually have a fondness for real books with paper pages...i.e., traditional bound books, not plastic screens tailored to the tactile impaired. As reported in PW, Simon and Schuster has joined a growing number of publishers who are questioning the logic of publishing titles as books and e-books simultaneously.

Simon will delay several dozen e-book titles to give the paper-and-print variety some time on the shelves. HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group are also toying with different ways to save traditional printing from the fangs of discounted e-books.

While some are quoted in the article as saying that this kind of delay is what hurt the film industry, you don't see movies like Avatar or Blind Sided coming out on video the week they hit the big screen. Those who want to see the film immediately must go to a movie theater; others wait the three to six months before they can buy it (or rent it) from a video store.

Publishers need to protect their books, their authors and the industry. My suggestion to publishers: If you are going to retail an e-book for under $10, wait until it is published in mass market paperback form for under $10. Instead of caving in to the Nook and the Kindle, do the smart thing before people start copying book titles as easily as they share music.

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