Apple's Agency Model 'Good in Theory' But Jury Still Out, Says Analyst
As publishers, authors, retailers and every other other book business constituency continues to struggle with the issue of pricing, Michael Norris, the senior editor and analyst of Simba Information's trade books group, weighed in with the Publishing Business Insider on some data and intelligence he and his company have collected.
Norris will leading a session at the Publishing Business Conference called "Beyond the Price Wars: What's Really Happening in Book and E-book Retailing," where he'll look at the price-sensitivity of consumers, the effects of e-books and their pricing on print books, and more. He'll also take a look at Apple's new agency model which, as he points out below, bears watching throughout the rest of the year.
INSIDER: Based on the information Simba has been tracking, how price-sensitive are print book buyers?
MICHAEL NORRIS: It depends on the book and on the buyer, but in general we've seen a big gravitation toward paperbacks over the past year or so while hardcovers have been flat or declining. Publisher sales data mostly confirms this, and we've also seen booksellers reporting better luck lately with the lower-priced products. A part of the reason does have to do with paperback titles costing less than hardcover, and with the economy what it is everyone's looking for ways to save. When the economy starts to turn around we'll hopefully see hardcover [sales] tick up again.
INSIDER: How about e-book buyers?
NORRIS: There's limited evidence when you refer to e-book buyers as a whole; as we pointed out in [Simba's] "Trade E-book Publishing," there aren't nearly as many e-book buyers as there are print book buyers, and most of the buyers only purchase a handful of e-books a year which is similar to their print book brethren. When you talk about consumers that tend to consume a lot of e-books, they tend to be more likely to think e-books should be priced less.
Matt Steinmetz is the publisher and brand director of Publishing Executive.