How are books being published in today’s marketplace: let me count the ways!
Upended by digital derring-do, major publishers are experimenting with everything from video trailers to multimedia books in an effort to keep sales from sliding. Still, when a powerhouse publisher like Random House takes one of its biggest authors, John Grisham, down the digital brick road, that’s news.
The Confession, the 24th adult book to flow from John’s fertile mind, has just been released in hardcover with a major media blitz. At one end of the spectrum, his publisher is planning to put out a limited gift edition just in time for the holidays. It will be will be leather-bound, signed, and numbered, with printed endpapers, gold stamping, a slipcase, a ribbon marker — and a $250.00 price tag.
At the other end, Random House has bowed to digital demand and released an e-book version of The Confession at the same time as its hardcover edition. Releasing a traditional book and e-book simultaneously seems a tad risky, doesn’t it? Cannibalizing a bestseller sounds like a bad business proposition.
And yet, both Random House and Grisham seem to be betting on the idea that making the book available in e-book format won’t deflect some readers from buying the hardback, but will actually attract a new brand of reader. Interesting!
Initially, John Grisham was opposed to the idea of selling an e-book version because he thought independent booksellers would suffer. But he changed his mind when readers started emailing him and asking for a digital download. And even he has been amazed with the results: So far, 70,000 e-books have been sold — about 30% of total sales.
“The e-book sales are astonishing,” Grisham enthused during an interview. “Would anybody have thought that a year ago? The future has arrived and we’re looking at it….Hopefully, there is a whole new market out there of readers buying books digitally. If that’s true, it’s good news for all of us.”
Deluxe editions, digital downloads, dustjacketed traditionals — books are proving mighty resilient aren’t they? In the end, words are still what it’s all about. That is good news!