NPR’s Bizarre Non-Story About eBooks

E-Books Destroying Traditional Publishing? The Story’s Not That Simple

“We’ve had an incredible year,” says Sourcebooks President Dominique Raccah. “Last year was the best year in the company’s history. This year we beat that, which I didn’t think was even possible.” Raccah adds that her company is doing well because of digital publishing, not in spite of it. “It’s been an amazing ride,” she says.

First, quoting Dominique Raccah is like quoting Steve Jobs when it comes to the MP3 player business. Of course the person who is best at something is going to be having a good year. But how was that year in MP3 players for, say, Creative, Microsoft, Archos, Samsung? Get my meaning?

Then second, this, which really takes the frikkin cake:

Dropping the price of An Unfinished Life did get people’s attention. “Here, we had an opportunity to increase the audience,” Adams says. The book — originally published in 2003 — launched itself back onto the best-seller list. And because Little, Brown could raise the price again, it wasn’t stuck with a money loser.

Stuck with a “money loser” that’s been on sale for nine years? Did this writer even stop to parse that? No publisher would keep a damn book on sale for nine years if it was losing money. And if it was an out of print book brought back to life in e, guess what again? The investment would have been minimal. There was never any damn money to “lose” to begin with here.

Some days …


  1. Cookie1 January, 2013

    Oh Sourcebook. Never heard of them.

  2. Dean1 January, 2013

    Little Brown wasn’t stuck with a money-losing price. At $2.99 the publisher might be getting $1.50 for each e-book sold on Amazon. The contract with the author, Robert Dallek, is likely to be a list royalty, so Little Brown would have to pay maybe $2.50 for every e-book sold. They would lose $1.00 for eachsale at the special price.But they can raise the price after gaining visibility for the book.

    1. Nate Hoffelder1 January, 2013

      I’m not sure that Little,Brown was paying based on list. It’s a Hachette imprint, and that means it went through the agency pricing. The details of the contract might have been changed. Without knowing what the new contract was I’m not sure you can say they were losing money on the title.


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