Who is really in charge here?

In response to The Coming Book Wars: Apple vs. Amazon vs. Google vs. the U.S.

In light of Google’s decision to drop its agreement to be independent bookstore’s ebook provider, it appears that independent bookstores have a large business decision to make: either they have to expand and become large enough to offer good quality digital service and ebooks or stick to plainly print books and only incorporate links to ebook providers on their websites. These bookstores can still provide links to kindle, kobo and ibook versions of the ebooks on their websites, if they want to gain a share of the revenue from ebook sales, they will have to expand in order to provide this service to their customers. Independent bookstores need to realize that Apple made this decision based on the revenue that they were not pulling in, and that they also need to make the decision to either expand their companies so that they can gain a share of ebook revenue or just stick to print books, if expanding to include quality delivery and technical support for ebooks would involve more expenses than the revenues would offset.

There is also another option for authors when they sell their manuscript to publishers: there could be a move to not sell their digital rights. This way, they could retain the rights themselves, either create an .epub file themselves and distribute it, or pay a third party to create an .epub file (for a fee) and then distribute it. This way, they could sell their ebook to independent bookstores and the stores can distribute it and gain a share of the revenue. This theory would be difficult because it would be hard to negotiate keeping the digital rights to your book at first, until it became common. We know from Tech project first semester that you can take an .epub file and put it into a Kindle app, a Kobo app, and iBooks. These digital companies would not be receiving a portion of the revenue for these books, but the books would still be readable on the different platforms. This option might be an advantage for the publishing industry and also might be detrimental: the advantage would be that the digital companies would not have any power over the distribution of these ebooks (unless they close their platforms so that exterior .epub files not bought from their online store cannot be read on their platform). The disadvantage would be that it would drastically change the distribution model: readers would have to go to the author’s’ individual websites to buy an ebook, or to the independent bookstore’s website to buy the ebook. There is no way to tell whether the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages or the inverse.

One Reply to “Who is really in charge here?”

  1. Stopping the distribution of ebooks through Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks stores would be a huge shift, one that I see as unlikely to take hold. The change would require changes in the platforms to allow for easy loading of books acquired through other means (right now, it is _much_ easier to load a book from the official stores than to download it to your computer and push it onto the device).

    When you speak to the advantage and disadvantage, it is not clear from whose perspective. From the perspective of authors? publishers? tech companies? How do those perspective play against each other? How do they compliment each other? Or, is there a universal perspective that speaks to the good of Publishing (with a capital P).

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