November 2, 2009
Another New Player in the E-book Distribution Business
I earlier reported here on how inundated I am with e-book choices, but, unlike the little dutch boy with his thumb holding back a nasty leak, the e-book scene continues to evolve before my very eyes. Now, in addition to the likes of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Editions, appears a new content delivery platform called AllAccess (a name that really has no brand appeal at all) from LibreDigital.
LibreDigital promises that the new service (availalbe sometime this spring), allows uses to deliver their e-books on any device (any device means Amazon Kindle, your computer, the Sony Reader, your iPhone, the Nook, etc...). It would be even more appealing if you could download multiple copies of the book to your various devices (so you can read the book on your iPhone when boarding a crowded train or bus, pick up where you left off when you get home and pull out your e-reader, etc.) The company already acts as a web-based distribution agent for major book and serials publishers. So, at least this move seems to make sense for this particular player.
According various blog posts, customers will pay for the books and periodicals, LibreDigital will take their cut and the publishers will get their cut. The percentages have not yet been announced.
What about lending the titles? Well, LibreDigital say that they are leaving that up to the individual publishers (so we now where that is going). Barnes & Noble indicates that they will allow a 2 week loan of e-books you buy to your e-reader buddies, but if you read the fine print they really leave it up to the publishers as well. Basically, no one will let you lend your e-book.
And what about the competition? We haven't even seen how Google Editions is going to impact the market yet, but I am sure it will be big because that is just how Google is.
Fictionwise, via Computer World, predicted that 2010 will be an explosive market for e-books. Quoting OverDrive, a global distributer of digital e-boos, the New York Times recognized that circulation stats in the New York Public Library system exceeded 1,000,000 in 2008, well over the 607,000 check outs in 2007. For an excellent review of the tremendous growth and the state of the computer book world, see Mike Hendrikson's posts of the same name on O'Reilly Radar.
We have seen the popular press report on how much people love downloading books from their public library, and from retailers like Amazon, who drastically reduce book prices for digital versions. Meanwhile, Stephen King decides to buck the trend and offer the hard copy version of his new tome, Under the Dome, for $9 and the digital version for $35! Completely opposite of what is becoming the industry standard.
A solution? Maybe Mr. King has the answer. Maybe the digital version should cost a bit more and then be freed up for lending since the cost will be figured into the price. The more difficult to lend, and impossible to lend to more than one person at a time, print version of the book should get a discount. And that would make aworld of people happy! (VS)