August 5th

The Rubiks Cube of book publishing

The recent, high-profile ebook pricing battles between the likes of Amazon and Hachette, or Apple and competition regulators, have shown how market forces are alive and well in more ways than one. Big publishers now have ultimate control over ebook pricing. No more massive Amazon discounts and, apparently, no more ebook sales growth as a result, notes industry consultant Mike Shatzkin.

It appears to be a classic example of price elasticity, made all the more obvious by the fact that Amazon’s own ebook business continues to thrive with its discount prices. But is it really?

This is not a zero-sum game and it isn’t simple. It’s Rubik’s Cube complicated.

The entire publishing world is changing, says Shatzkin. Reading patterns are evolving, new business models emerging, and self publishing is growing. Traditional publishers might also be pricing ebooks out of the market to protect their more glamorous and high-profile print businesses.

As long as the proposition “we put books on shelves” has value, so do publishers.