Once again, Kassia Krozser provides great insight, this time with her discussion of digital piracy. She points out that publishers are being pulled down the same road, kicking and screaming, that music company execs were not so long ago.
Our advantage, for now, is that the physical book is still a superior medium, for most people, than the ebook. This gives publishers options for creativity (that most admittedly are avoiding). How long this advantage will last is anyone’s guess. A smallish paperback book that costs $1 to print can still be a beautiful object that you give to a friend or rip in half to share (I’ve done this more than once) or sell again. I’m not sure these will go away so fast.
I made the point in a BEA panel that online marketing, social marketing, online sales and ebooks all were driving towards a diminution of the frontlist/backlist barrier. That means your new biography on Alexander Hamilton will be competing less against the other frontlist history titles and more against every other Hamilton bio. Who will win? With Amazon recommendations, social media openness, etc., I tend to think the best Hamilton bio will win, even if it’s not the newest. In the best of worlds this means a drive towards quality, where bringing out me too books is the road to disaster and great books can last, well, forever.
It’s a pretty thought.