Hachette Livre CEO Arnaud Nourry Has Advice for Authors: "When you Lose Control of Pricing, You Are Dead"
He made several sound suggestions, according to The Bookseller:
… Nourry said the industry had to be vigilant over the pricing of digital books.
"We have learnt from the magazine, music and press industry that when you lose control of pricing your content you are basically on your way to death," he said. "As book publishers, we need to put some kind of control through contracts, on pricing… To some extent Google is even more aggressive in not charging for content than Amazon, because Amazon is a retailer.
"There is consensus among publishers in the UK and US that there should be some price control."
He added: "I am very happy with the (current) agency model."
He said the publisher had to learn "segment by segment, genre by genre" how to best price content for customers. "We need to learn and we are in the process of learning," he said, warning that getting the pricing right was "instrumental in the future of the industry".
Sure, Nourry is speaking to commercial publishers, but (almost) everything he says is applicable to authors who act as their own publishers. After all, authors are just as much a part of the publishing industry these days as anyone working for a publisher. (And given the time that traditionally published authors are required to spend on marketing … ).
Authors do need to learn more about pricing their books (and many already are), and like Nourry said they should assert more control over the books they publish.
Of course, Nourry didn’t say that authors should go out on their own (nor was he thinking of authors when speaking yesterday), but that is simply the logical next step.
In fact, Nourry hardly gives indie authors a second thought. According to PW, Nourry described self-publishing as
the contrary of my business. We look at books and decide what we do and do not want to invest in. Sometimes publishers are wrong, as with 50 Shades of Grey, but even in this case E.L. James wanted a traditional publisher. When print is 85% of the market, you need it. I am not competing against self-publishing and it will not change my business.
He also doesn’t think that the ebook market will be expanding any further. From Shelf Awareness:
Nourry also addressed the plateauing and slight dropping off of e-book sales within the United States. The conclusion his company has reached, he said, was that the e-book market so far has been one based almost entirely on e-ink devices sold particularly to avid readers. That population now is saturated–there is no growth potential, he continued, among heavy readers for e-ink devices. In his view, that explained the plateau, and the increase in e-book prices in recent years might explain why a slight decline has followed that plateau.
"I think the same will happen in the U.K.," Nourry said, noting that the U.S. and U.K. were the only to countries to have such wide, deep penetration of e-readers. He believed that the much slower of adoption of e-readers in continental Europe was the result of no retailer.
Hmm, so Nourry can see the impact of the ereader market, but he doesn’t see that people are now reading on their phones?
Perhaps we should take his advice with a grain of salt.