Today’s New York Times reports that Random House will establish an all-digital unit which will distribute e-Books and print-on-demand titles. These books will not be distributed through brick and mortar bookstores, but will be sold exclusively online. Consumer prices will be slightly lower than trade paperbacks for e-Books and slighlty higher for print-on-demand titles. Author royalties will be 15% for e-Books and 7.5% for print-on-demand titles. Random plans to launch the unit in January with 20 titles. At least one agent, Robert Gotleib, feels that the royalty structure Random plans to offer is slightly askew, “There is a tremendous reduction in overhead from printing, distribution and all of that, and authors aren’t enjoying the benefits of the increased profitability.”
According to Publisher’s Weekly, officials at Stephen King’s Web site said that some 41,000 downloads were made the first day that King made his story available for download. This figure is lower than the nearly 500,000 downloads in March of King’s e-novella, Riding the Bullet.
One theory is that Riding the Bullet benefitted from being backed by a major publisher. Still, $41,000 of revenue in a single day does not necessarily mark this historic attempt at self-publishing as a failure…
Emboldened with the success of his Riding the Bullet e-Book, author Stephen King is experimenting with an honor system publishing model (with a catch) – King will release the first 2/3 of his new work The Plant for free download on his personal site. He will only release the last third of the novel if 75% of the people who download the work pay a nominal $1 fee. (Article in The Industry Standard [IA])
[Link updated April 2005; only the Internet Archive copy of the page was found]
An article in last week’s New York Times hints at one potential new publishing model – iUniverse and IDG Books are teaming up to allow readers to build their own books out of chapters and components from IDG’s “Dummies” and “Frommer’s Guide” series. Readers pay for each bit of content by piece. The resulting custom book is then bound and shipped, or put into a PDF file for download. If successful, the venture could offer an example for publishers of electronic literature. It’s conceivable that e-lit readers might be willing to pay for an anthology of interactive literature that they themselves construct.
Next month’s Seybold SF 2000 conference will feature a comprehensive e-Book industry event, with a showcase sponsored by Publisher’s Weekly featuring the major e-Book vendors and a keynote by Dick Brass, the leader of Microsoft’s e-Book group.
[Link checked April 2005; the page that was at
http://www2.zdevents.com/db/owa/press_release_detail?v_press_release_id=1438 is no longer on the Web and is not shown by the Internet Archive]
Bold Type, Random House’s online literary magazine, and MP3Lit.com, Salon.com’s digital audio company, have signed a deal to offer free MP3 and RealAudio clips from Bold Type‘s recordings [IA] of author readings and interviews.
The first recording they are offering is Nathan Englander reading an excerpt from his For the Relief of Unbearable Urges.
(Site became “Salon Audio” in late 2000)
[Links updated April 2005; only the Internet Archive copy of the original page was found]