14 November 2008

“If books on the Kindle were $1...”

Here's Seth Godin, author of Tribes, in an interview at The 26th Story:

What's the most important lesson the book publishing industry can learn from the music industry?

The market doesn't care a whit about maintaining your industry. The lesson from Napster and iTunes is that there's even MORE music than there was before. What got hurt was Tower and the guys in the suits and the unlimited budgets for groupies and drugs. The music will keep coming.

Same thing is true with books. So you can decide to hassle your readers (oh, I mean your customers) and you can decide that a book on a Kindle SHOULD cost $15 because it replaces a $15 book, and if you do, we (the readers) will just walk away. Or, you could say, "if books on the Kindle were $1, perhaps we could create a vast audience of people who buy books like candy, all the time, and read more and don't pirate stuff cause it's convenient and cheap..."

I'm a pessimist that the book industry will learn from music. How are you betting?
I like the words, but not the numbers. The current online music sales model is $1/song, $10-13/album. A book isn't the equivalent of a song; it's an album. The pricing model shouldn't be $1/chapter, but if you're selling a whole day's worth of entertainment or information, you can charge more than a buck.

Indication that The 26th Story might actually be serious about this, and not just trying to sell us something: This blog comes from HarperStudio, an imprint at HarperCollins. Godin's book comes from Portfolio, an imprint at Penguin.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the pointer.

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