by Evil Wylie
Lil Wayne has shocked the music industry again, but this time it's not for his love of firearms, drugs, or lollipops. According to Billboard:
The rapper released his new album, "I Am Not a Human Being," initially through digital channels only, with the physical release coming out two weeks later on Oct. 12.... Most brick-and-mortar merchants worry that putting a digital release out early could turn into a trend.
"It's disturbing," says one merchant. "Its definitely putting brick-and-mortar second, and we are going to lose business that we would normally get. How is the consumer going to know that the album will have a second physical release?"
Simon & Schuster and Hachette have toyed around with staggering release dates of ebooks, choosing to release the ebook weeks or even months after the hardcover in a move intended to artificially inflate demand for print books. "The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback," said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster.
Some publishers are taking the opposite approach. Harlequin's Carina Press is a "digital first" imprint that plans to release its most successful ebooks as print books; Dorchester Publishing recently switched to a "digital first" model due to sluggish mass market sales.
Amazon is even getting in on the "digital first" movement: their AmazonEncore imprint will release J.A. Konrath's new book, Shaken, on Kindle in October--four months before it bows in print next February.
Is there a "right" or "wrong" release window for digital and physical products? Could more publishers follow in Lil Wayne's trailblazing footsteps and introduce ebooks weeks or months before print books?