iPad to Disappoint Publishers

10:20 AM -- Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPad device may not turn out to be the publishing industry's savior after all.

According to this morning's New York Times, the e-book prices that had been reported for the iPad's upcoming bookstore -- $12.99 and $14.99 -- were actually more of a price ceiling, and in fact, the iPad's prices may be more similar to that of the Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle's e-book price -- $9.99.

This could be a big letdown for publishers -- such as Macmillan -- which have railed against Amazon's low prices.

In related news:

  • Amazon has released a Kindle application to run on BlackBerry devices, CNET reports. Customers can already read Amazon's e-books on Apple iPhones and Windows computers, and will soon be able to do so on Mac computers and the iPad, as well.

  • A number of companies are preparing rivals for Apple's upcoming iPad, The Wall Street Journal reports. While HP continues to fine-tune its Slate device, Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL), Acer Inc. , Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) are hard at work on tablets of their own. "For us, the iPad launch is a benchmark," Mike Abary, a vice president in Sony's Vaio PC division, told WSJ.

    — Erin Barker, Digital Content Reporter, Cable Digital News

  • medson 12/5/2012 | 4:42:27 PM
    re: iPad to Disappoint Publishers

    That is good news to me. If the price of iPad book stays at high tens or even $14.99, I will have serious reservation about purchasing iPad and especially purchasing books from iTune. $9.99 is a more acceptable price to me.

    erinbarker 12/5/2012 | 4:42:25 PM
    re: iPad to Disappoint Publishers

    Maybe in the short term, it's good news for you. But in the long term, when editing and writing quality is sacrificed to make up for lost revenues...?

    erinbarker 12/5/2012 | 4:42:24 PM
    re: iPad to Disappoint Publishers


    Great point. Totally agree with you that the publishing industry could potentially turn this transition to its advantage. I hope it does.

    I think the first step is not to go down the same road newspapers did, giving content away for less than it's worth.

    paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:42:24 PM
    re: iPad to Disappoint Publishers


    The publishers may actually do a lot better with electronic distribution.  This format will dramatically lower their costs.  As Erin said, publishers are not going away.  The need for locating, refining and marketing talent will always exist.  What will change is how all these functions occur and the monetary relationships involved.




    erinbarker 12/5/2012 | 4:42:24 PM
    re: iPad to Disappoint Publishers

    Hate to break it to you, but not many self-published authors sell 100K books. Not many regularly published authors even do, even with all the editing and marketing support. So the system you're envisioning is not exactly going to be as beneficial for authors as you imagine.

    mgardner750 12/5/2012 | 4:42:24 PM
    re: iPad to Disappoint Publishers

    Publishers are going to go the way of newpapers. They will be a lot smaller and address niche markets. The real value publishers brought to authors is in the distribution network of paper books.

    Publishers now can be bypassed all together with electronic distribution. I have several books in a Kindle and electronic book format that the authors published themselves. They get to keep the majority $9/book and not get a minority share from a publisher. Selling a 100K books and keeping $7/book isn't going to decrease the quality of writing.

    My children's school district is looking into providing a Kindle to every student to eliminate buying text books. This will be another blow to publishers revneu that will disappoint publishers.



    rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:42:23 PM
    re: iPad to Disappoint Publishers

    There are two big differences between the newspaper and publisher analogy, first is that the newspapers lost distribution control over their revenue generating content, (i.e. classified ads which became craigslist.org), and second is they have weak intellectual property controls over the news itself.

    It is a general rule that factual information or news stories are not copyrightable.  The copyright law protects original creations of the mind.  This definition means that any idea or thought that creates an original work of authorship is considered copyrighted material.  Stories that report facts and information are not “original works of authorship” or “creations of the mind.”  As a result, the copyright laws have never extended to news stories.

    So this will boil down to copyright negotiations between publishers and the authors where an unknown author will have a much weaker negotiating position unless she can somehow create awareness and demand for her works, which usually means getting the media companies to market the author/works across all the media channels.

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