About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

News of the day

B&N says it wants to talk with publishers about doing print/e-book bundles (PW report here), where a customer buying a printed book brick-and-mortar could then buy the e-book at a reduced price to be discussed with the publisher. It's an interesting idea, not unheard of, and some BlueRay DVDs now come bundled with an old-fashioned DVD as well. At the same time, I'm not falling head over heels in love with the idea, perhaps because I'm not sure if they're exploring the opposite approach as well, where somebody buys the e-book and then gets a discount on the print edition.

That's one of those ideas that sounds weird, because you're letting the cheaper product kick in a discount on the more expensive product. Yet it's done, as when Tor sells a $4.99 Mistborn with a coupon for the more expensive hardcover. And it all ends up in the same place at the end, with the same products sold for the same revenue. Or approximately the same, depending on royalty rates or marginal factors like that doing it one way vs. the other. In this case, I clearly think the opposite approach is the better. If you buy and actively use an e-book reader, doesn't that become your default? So the idea should be to encourage people who buy the e-book to think more actively on the discounted title at getting hard copy as the keepsake for the living room bookcase. That seems a bigger catch than somebody who buys a print edition and then goes "oh, wouldn't it be nice to be able to read this anywhere," because duh you can already do that with your printed book.

The Financial Times Debtwire is reporting that Borders has asked for an extension on its loan payments, and they've managed to put the most negative possible impression on what I see as an entirely neutral act. A few months ago this same service came out with a major non-story that didn't go anywhere about some band of small publishers ganging up with a bankruptcy attorney. It's no secret that Borders has been struggling, no secret that the company announced a cash crunch two years ago. So it's a total "duh" that they'd try and get some cooperation on extending a loan, it's the kind of routine thing that companies do all the time, and isn't it better to talk to people and work your way out of the jam? To FT, it's just making news like your local newscast over-touting a snowstorm. But to me -- and to most of the people who'd read this blog -- Borders is an important thing to have around, and I get peeved by this piling on.

1 comment:

Kyle White said...

Agreed that Borders - and other competition - is good to have around, so B&N and Amazon don't rule the bookselling market. Just one of the reasons I make many of my purchases at Borders and Book-a-Million.