Huffingtonpost report has an interesting article about the demise of hardback books

Just found this article about the possible demise of the hardback novel. Kindle is doing a wonderful job (sarcasm, here) in killing off a dinosaur. Or . . . at least drastically changing the business model.

Find it at:

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Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on November 4, 2009 at 1:29pm
Here's an idea:

You buy the e-book for regular price and receive a discount on the hardcover thereafter. The hardcover would be processed POD and marketed direct-to-consumer.

Of course, that excludes the reader from experiencing the novel first as a hardcover. But isn't there a timelessness to just owning a hardcover?
Comment by B.R.Stateham on November 4, 2009 at 8:07am
A book store giving away cookies? Where is this wonderful paradise? The cookie-monster must know!
Comment by I. J. Parker on November 4, 2009 at 7:51am
The problem with POD seems to have been slow delivery. People are fickle. They don't want to wait three weeks to lay their hands on a book. Libraries like hardcovers but have been buying both trade paper and mass market paper lately. Their turnover has, I think, increased amazingly in the last 10 years.
As for cost: I have no idea what it costs to produce a hc. But Amazon is selling most of them for about 16 dollars. I think they get a discount which would mean that it doesn't cost 25 dollars to produce the book.
Are you in Taiwan now?
Comment by John Dishon on November 4, 2009 at 5:05am
Utilizing POD technology would help with that too, as you would only have to print what was already bought, so no extras. I don't think POD technology is quite there yet in terms of quality, at least not for color, but give it time and it will be.

Hardcovers are great because they are more durable than paperback. The problem is, how many times have you paid $24.95 for a hardcover and then didn't like the book? Now you've got a paper brick taking up space in your home that you'll never read again. It's a waste of money. I don't think hardcovers are worth more than $15. I'm willing to pay more than that if it's an author I like and trust to give me quality, but those are few.

As an interesting aside: in Taiwan new fiction releases are paperback, roughly trade paperback size, and they come individually shrink-wrapped. I don't recall seeing hardcover fiction books. Not saying they don't exist there, but it is definitely not the norm.
Comment by I. J. Parker on November 4, 2009 at 4:53am
Well, actually I don't believe hardcovers will disappear. There will probably be fewer of them. Don't imagine for a minute that all formats are treated eually. It's the hardcovers that get the critical attention, perhaps because a hardcover signals to the reviewer that the publisher thinks it's worth the extra risk.

I cannot for the life of me understand why the author argues her point from the cost of returns to the publisher. Has it never occurred to anyone that this is where the business model needs to change? No returns until three months have passed from date of delivery. That should stop all that nonsense and make book stores plan their orders more carefully. In fact, I'd be happy if publishers restricted the ordering further to cut down on returns. Yes, they'd probably lose out on large order numbers, but they'd save on shipping and warehousing costs.
Comment by John McFetridge on November 4, 2009 at 2:04am
I buy about 4 new release hardcover books a year and probably a dozen or more paperbacks (trade and mass market). I've decided that if I had a Kindle and the books were five bucks I'd buy a lot more than I do now (I may not read them all, but for five bucks I'd take a chance).

I remember in the early 80's when some books started coming out as trade paperback originals - Big City, Bright Lights, American Psycho, Slaves of New York, Less than Zero - that kind of thing. They seemed ideally suited to trade paperback. Then a lot of older books were reissued as trade paperbacks and I bought a lot of the Vintage Crime series. They're good looking books and I bought quite a few.

I find it hard to believe with POD technology that any format will die off. I think we'll see publshers start to offer books in every format at the same time and we'll get to choose which one we want.

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