Simon and Schuster delaying release of eBooks

In an effort to boost sales of its hardcover titles, Simon & Schuster announced that it will delay the eBook editions of its early 2010 books until four months after the hardcover release. It’s likely a smart move for the publisher: With the popularity of e-readers like the Amazon Kindle surging, more readers are purchasing eBooks for the low price of $9.99, rather than the price of the books’ hardcover equivalent, which often exceeds $20. “We believe this publishing sequence will benefit the performance of all the different formats in which these titles are published,” Simon & Schuster said in a release, “and in the long term will contribute to a healthier retail environment for the greater book buying public.” Some books on the publisher’s January to April 2010 schedule include You: On a Diet Revised Edition, by Michael F. Roizen; The Skinnygirl Dish, by Bethenny Frankel; Point Omega, by Don Delillo; House Rules, by Jodi Picoult; and The Shadow of Your Smile, by Mary Higgins Clark.


Comments (18 total) Add your comment
  • Typ0

    This is a huge mistake on the part of the publishers. Look how many people pre-ordered “The Lost Symbol” thus ensuring it was wirelessly delivered to their Kindle on the day of release. These people didn’t have time to read the vast majority of negative reviews, which may have effected their decision to purchase the book.

    By delaying the electronic release of books the publishers are only hurting themselves. Readers who would normally blind buy an author will now have time to read negative reviews. Worse, they may decide not to purchase books from authors and publishers who don’t value them.

  • Monique

    Noooo! As a devoted Kindle user – why? Why not just print less hard covers to make up the difference? People who want to buy hard covers instead of reading off an electronic device can still buy it, and vice versa. This makes me sad :(

    • Your Fourth Grade English Teacher

      “Fewer” hardcovers, not “less”.

      • Your Mother

        It’s never polite to correct someone in public, especially for such a trite offense in which typ9s/grammatical errors occur easily. You would want to save your comments for such scholarly works or your classroom.

  • ks

    BOOO!! I love my Kindle-less books in my house for one

  • jason

    Kindle owners are not going to buy a hardback, they will find something else to read and as Typ0 was saying, may never bother getting the book when it comes out later. It makes more sense to download a book, than to print it and then have bookstores ship back thousands of copies. Hopefully they will lose enough money quickly an reverse this decision.

  • liz m

    It’s a serious mistake. In just a few short months I’ve stopped reading paper books. Some publishers are charging twice the price for an e-book as a mass market paperback (this month an example would be the reprint of Believe by Victoria Alexander)

    I just don’t buy them overpriced. I probably wouldn’t buy it late. There are about 15 books I meant to buy scribbled on various pieces of paper around my desk that I rejected for not coming in ebook or being priced higher than the paperback. I doubt I’ll ever buy those titles as new ones catch my attention, and 2 I ended up getting as library e-books.

  • liz m

    PS, I should add that the two I got as library ebooks were popular new hardcovers I had intended to purchase.

  • anon

    Another point — if you look at the Amazon hardcover price and the Kindle price, they’re often not THAT different. (The Amazon h/c price is usually at least closer to the Kindle price than the full price h/c.) Does the publisher next plan to refuse to release hardbacks to Amazon until 4 months have passed because of Amazon’s deep discounting? Are we looking forward to staggered releases with only those willing to pay full price getting first dibs on a new book?

  • Typ0

    I just thought of something else. The new Stephen King was originally available for preorder at $9.99 and then at $9.00. I was able to get my pre-order in at that point. Like many books on Amazon, that price dropped again recently to $7.20.

    Book (both ebooks and DTB) often go down in price after release. Now, instead of paying either $9.99 or even $9.00 on the day of release – i’ve saved money and am paying slightly over $7.00.

    Yup, great move publishers! Thanks to your distaste for Kindlers like me, this delay has saved me money.

  • Amber J

    I read eBooks like many other posters, but I can’t honestly complain about the delay. I think eBooks should be treated like other publishing formats; paperback books aren’t released at the same time as hardcovers, so why should eBooks be treated differently? What’s the case for why eBooks just HAVE to be published at the same time as hardcover?

    Similarly in the entertainment industry, theatrical new release movies cannot be released on DVD for a certain amount of time – not because studios want to make sooooo much money, but because theatrical venues need to have an opportunity to make a fair profit (and movies are released in other formats, i.e. on airplanes, before they go to DVD).

    If the book publishing industry is similar to the movie industry, publishers have the best opportunity to make the most money in the initial format of release (in most case, hardcover). As hardcover is the most profitable for the publisher, I’m okay with them exploiting this market as much as possible, and once they think the market is saturated, releasing the book to the next market – in this case, eBook format.

    I know as the individual consumer we’re all about getting things at the best price possible, but at some point, you have to put aside your own personal gains and think about what our collective buying behaviors are doing to the industry as a whole. Can you really tell me that the value of owning King’s Under the Dome (or any of his works, for that matter)… is $10? Really? That’s all it’s worth to you? When you look at the bigger picture, and decide to buy something closer to the value at what it’s worth, and not just at it’s cheapest price, you realize $9 hardbacks isn’t a sustainable model, and $9.99 eBooks at initial release don’t give the publishers enough profit – which in turn limits their profitability and opportunity to go, find, and pay for the next great story.

    • Lisa Simpson

      You’re right, Amber. Too many people forget that publishing is a business that needs to make money in order to stay solvent. People expect to get paid for their work, and that includes authors. Is it really to much to ask to pay a sustainable amount for a work that a writer often worked on for years? Very few writers can make a full-time living at their profession, and even fewer actually get rich. In fact, very few people make much money at all in the book business. So if you want writers to stop writing and publishers to stop publishing and booksellers to stop selling books, then by all means, people, keep whining about spending more than a few dollars for something that someone has poured their whole heart into.

      • Monique

        So I am curious then, what if they just raise the price on Kindle? I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but for me, I really like not having a billion books in my home. Especially for light fluff like romance novels. I’d be willing to pay more on Kindle just to receive it at the same time as the hardcovers. To me, at least, it wasn’t about the money (although that’s a plus), but just the paperless-ness of it all.

        So far I haven’t seen this enter the debates, but it’s worth thinking about.

      • Lisa Simpson

        Monique, e-readers are gadgets and all profits go to the companies that create them. You can raise the price of the Kindle all you want, but authors still won’t get one more dime from them. Neither will publishers, editors, and all the other people who make a living in the book business.

      • liz m

        Lisa, I have no problem paying the SAME for my e-book as a paper book. I object to paying more. So I won’t. I know that a delay such as is described will likely result in my not buying books on the ‘maybe’ list. If I can find a book when it’s just released, I tend to buy it. If I wait and read more reviews, then I’m like, well, whenever or when the library gets it, and I never buy it. I’m not alone in my impulse book purchase methods.

        A system where we pay the same as paper book buyers at the same time makes sense to me. I only want a discount now because of the DRM limitations – my time to deal with that is worth 10 or 20% off.

  • Monique

    I know that. And I really don’t know the publishing side of business that well, but has the idea that publishers not release books to e-readers until some sort of deal has been made ever been considered? I really don’t know this stuff, which is why I like all these answers that people post. But it just seems like something can be worked out in the future. I think the music industry is currently working out with iTunes and such.

    • Lisa Simpson

      iTunes is a distribution medium, like any electronic or brick and mortar retailer. Royalties are paid on sales throught these outlets. Royalties are not paid on record players, CD players, iPods, or any other medium that plays music. (Royalties are paid to songwriters but not performers on radio airplay.) Royalties can’t be paid on performance gadgets, nor should they be. Who would get paid royalties for the sale of an e-book or iPod?

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