Publishers Try Bundling Print and E-Books

This New York Times story entitled “Of Two Minds About Books” is ostensibly about different reading formats, but it illustrates the dilemma that many publishers, and thus many authors, are facing.

According to the article by Matt Richtel and Claire Cain Miller, 10.3 million people will own e-readers this year, compared with 3.7 million last year, and they will buy 100 million e-books, compared with 30 million last year. 

In order to satisfy both types of consumers — those who want their books in an electronic format and those who prefer the traditional version — some publishers and booksellers are bundling print books and e-books at a discount. For example, religious book publisher Thomas Nelson (whose chairman and CEO Michael Hyatt has a blog that I highly recommend and that is included on the blogroll at left) has started to offer free e-books with with a print book for some titles. 

And here is the dilemma I referred to in the first paragraph:

This straddle-the-line marketing underscores a deeper tension: the desire to keep the print business alive so as not to alienate a core market, while establishing a base for a future that publishers see as increasingly digital, said James L. McQuivey, an e-reader industry analyst with Forrester [Research].

I think the bundling approach will be increasingly popular, at least for the foreseeable future, because it satisfies both the print and electronic constituencies. But as newer and better e-readers appear on the market, e-book sales look to increase exponentially.


2 responses to “Publishers Try Bundling Print and E-Books”

  1. Liz Lipperman says :

    Jeff, this subject is really intriguing to me as a reader who loves holding the book in my hand. I know the day is coming when I won't be able to afford to do that, but still…

    My question for you is do you see the agent's role in the epublishing business?

  2. Cassy Pickard says :

    Jeff: Great subject. I have been intrigued that there seems to be “choice” type of argument about books vs. e-readers. I have discovered that I enjoy both. When Jon and I travel, we load our Kindle and Nook (yes, plural) with many books- could be thousands. We carry only one small item and can read for hours. Yet, at home we have print books. Jon fought against my giving him a Kindle- he now is addicted. They are especially great for long trips.

    I do have one Nook story. I left it behind in the airplane seat going into Pisa. Bummed was I. No book to read until I got to an English speaking bookstore. I moped and grumbled. Leaving Pisa a week later, the airline had tagged my reservation in the computer. My darling little Nook was returned to me before take-off.

    I think there is room for it all.

    Liz's question is important. Where do the agents and those who manage the industry assure that their hard work isn't lost?

    Thanks, Jeff, great and timely subject. Cassy

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