Short Term Thinking

The WSJ reports this morning that Simon & Schuster and Hachette are going to delay the release of their top selling new books.

"The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback," said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS Corp. "We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new [electronic] readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed base of e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible."

Wow, it is hard to imagine a more clear repetition of bad business decisions and lessons not learned from others in the media industry. The genie can’t go back in the bottle, it simply doesn’t work. For a contrary view:

"In the Internet age you don’t enjoy the same degree of control," said Eric Garland, CEO of BigChampagne, LLC, an online media measurement company in Beverly Hills, Calif. "You can’t create artificial scarcity by withholding content in one form and making it available later."

The fundamental question is pretty simple, if you think long term, are digital readers better for the industry overall? As in, over time will volume go up compared to print only sales? It certainly seems the answer is yes, which means the publishers are making short term profit decisions that will kill them over time. And seriously, seeing a publisher moan about protecting authors is a hoot as the guy from Hachette does here, “I can’t sit back and watch years of building authors sold off at bargain-basement prices. It’s about the future of the business.” Almost as good as the music industry talking about how they are “protecting” bands. Sheesh.

6 Responses to “Short Term Thinking”

  1. MJF Says:

    Wow. Dumb! And might encourage some jailbreaking/stealing of content, too… Why not grab more readers when a book is hot and in the news? A few months or year after it comes out, I’m far less interested in reading it…

  2. Richard Eckel Says:

    Dead on, Frank. More evidence of Neanderthal thinking. To your point, you’d think anyone in the “content” business would have gone to school on what’s occurred in the music industry. Sheesh, is right…

  3. timdyson Says:

    Why are the music industry and the book publishing world so blind when it comes to technology? At some point these industries will be reinvented with or without cooperation of the current publishers.

  4. Book industry joins the news business on the stupid train Says:

    [...] short term thinking that has been the bane of both the music and newspaper industry before them. As Frank Shaw pointed out The fundamental question is pretty simple, if you think long term, are digital readers better for [...]

  5. Book industry joins the news business on the stupid train | Breaking News Live Says:

    [...] short term thinking that has been the bane of both the music and newspaper industry before them. As Frank Shaw pointed out The fundamental question is pretty simple, if you think long term, are digital readers better for [...]

  6. Linda Bopist Says:

    I guess that I have a different perspective, but then my need to read depends not on current market trends, more on what takes my fancy.
    And so, the books that I buy for my digital reader are not the same as the paperbacks, which are also not the same as the hardback books that I buy. For example, I may buy a paperback book for journeys to and from work. A hardback book can be a bit more of a hassle to hump around, so it would generally be a book that I would read at home, before I go to bed (per se).
    Whilst with the best will in the world I may wish to read Dante’s New Life on a packed underground, I may struggle to really get into it, so may opt for a paperback crime thriller or sci-fi adventure (fast paced gripping storylines), and leave the classics until I am at home, where I can really enjoy them.
    So where do digital books fit into this picture? Well “after the hardcover but before the paperback,” apparently.
    To be honest I would not compare media industries; although I understand that they all are consumed by the same fear (piracy).

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