My spies intercepted this email from a major publisher, which clarifies their approach on a number of issues:
From: [email protected]
To: <All employees>
Publishing Policy For Electronic Books ("e-books")
It has come to our attention that our competitors are releasing electronic versions of some titles, for use on electronic reader devices. As there has been alarmist talk of these replacing paper - as broadcast television is
replacing the wireless, and Philips' Compact Cassette is replacing vinyl - we are issuing this note on policy.
Issuing our Back Catalogue:
It can take half a day to scan and proof-read a book. If we employ someone at a cost of $100K per annum, and they produce 400 books, this gives us a cost of $250 per book to recover - which at, say, $2.50 per e-book profit, would require sales in excess of 100 books! Not even our ghost-written celebrity cooking dramas are getting that level of sales! e-books are therefore only appropriate for new releases.
Geography and the World-Wide Web:
Using the intertubes, customers can access e-books from anywhere in the world. This means that customers from countries where we have the rights could buy books from someone else. We will block this, but customers can still travel here to buy e-books locally if they want. Although I've never been abroad, all the foreigners that I've met enjoy traveling, so this should suit them!
Digital Rights Management (DRM):
Without DRM, books can be copied any number of times and freely distributed, so everyone would copy them without paying - because customers are thieves. DRM stops an e-book from being copied, re-sold, lent, amended or read - thereby maximising sales. Since DRM has been effective for every other kind of content, there is no reason that e-books should be any different.
E-books are digital, which means that they are composed of 1's and 0's - eight or more of which can be needed to represent a single character. Logically, they
should therefore cost eight times as much. In order to support this fledgeling market, we will set the price at less than twice that of a paper book, and bear
the additional costs ourselves.
As there is no copyright in international waters, there are a growing number of "pirates" who are buying e-books from on-board ship. These can then flow through the intertubes in torrents. This kind of copying kills our profits, and is therefore murder - we will be lobbying for the death penalty.
In summary, our policy is to release selected new titles across the whole of some countries, often at less than twice the price of a paper copy - enhanced with DRM to provide security against use.