Why E-content Prices Will Erode Even Further
If you think e-content prices are too low today, well, in the immortal words of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain't seen nothing yet. In fact, "nothing" is precisely where more and more e-content prices are heading. Here are a few reasons why:
E Ink dies while tablets reign - It's no secret that sales of dedicated e-reading devices, mostly featuring the E Ink display technology, are fading. E Ink was terrific in the pre-tablet days, particularly since it was so lightweight, you could go weeks between charges, and the price was right. More consumers are opting for multi-function tablets these days though and that means publishers are no longer simply competing with each other; on a tablet you're also competing with games and other addictive time-wasting apps. As publishers struggle to maintain relevance and eyeballs many will undoubtedly become desperate and experiment with lower and lower prices.
More and better free content competition every year - Look around and consider all the terrific free content options out there. Whether it's long-form like Wattpad or breaking news like countless websites, every year consumers seem to have less and less reason to open their wallets for e-content. Today you have more free options than you did a year ago and a year from now that number will only go up further.
New, lower pricing models driven largely by startups - Even if your competitor's content isn't free it's still often much lower-priced than traditional publishers are comfortable with. Startups don't have all the infrastructure and fixed costs of a traditional publisher so it's easy for them to experiment with lower pricing models. Look at what Oyster and Scribd are doing in the ebook marketplace. These two startups are bringing the music subscription model into book publishing consumers (like me) love it because they're spending far less and able to read so much more for one low monthly price.
Digital-first, print never - Most traditional publishers are still operating with a print-first mentality. They view e-version sales as incremental, a way to drive a bit more ROI for their print product. The market is already starting to favor digital-first publishers though and that trend isn't going to change. Digital-first publishers tend to be younger, more aggressive organizations, ones that are looking for volume, not necessarily top-line revenue or even profitability (in the short term).
Kids and free - As this recent survey notes, the younger generation thinks your content should be free. Content sharing is their way of life. Good luck changing their thinking as they gradually become a larger part of your target audience.
Are you discouraged yet? Don't be. There are plenty of ways to combat this trend and even turn it to your advantage. Stay tuned...that's the topic of next week's article.
Joe Wikert is Publishing President at Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com). Before joining OSV Joe was Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software. Prior to Olive Software he was General Manager, Publisher, & Chair of the Tools of Change (TOC) conference at O’Reilly Media, Inc., where he managed each of the editorial groups at O’Reilly as well as the Microsoft Press team and the retail sales organization. Before joining O’Reilly Joe was Vice President and Executive Publisher at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in their P/T division.