Frankly Speaking: The Publisher-Retailer Tug-of-War
An e-book does not have the same cost factors as a print book. It is disingenuous for publishers to price e-books near print book prices. The entire issue of digital rights management needs to be resolved. Consumers balk at paying a high price for an e-book that cannot be shared or read on different readers.
A printed book is standardized in terms of reading. E-book formats are all over the lot. The upheaval in book publishing, making, selling and reading will continue for a while. All stakeholders will dig in and try to protect their turf. But the time has come to make e-books as sharable and usable as print books. The whole book infrastructure is not sustainable as it now exists. It must be reinvented. The question is: Who will give first?
Literacy and books built this nation. Literacy and books can renew this nation. But not at $14 for an e-book that you don't own and can't transfer to a different device. Eventually the only bookstores will be the ones for old books … which people will buy and cherish. BB
Frank Romano is professor emeritus at RIT School of Print Media and the author of 45 books.