After emailing Random House about the closing of its ebookstore, I asked Kelley Allen for an interview regarding Random House’s digital publishing mission. She kindly spent some time with me this week discussing digital publishing in general and what to expect from Random House.
What is Random House’s committment to epublishing?
Random House does believe in epublishing. We are currently working on several digital initiatives. We have one of the largest ebook programs in the US. For example, when Sony launched its ebook Connect store in September 2006, about 1/3 of the catalog were Random House books.
Who decides what books are put into ebook format?
We have over 100 imprints at Random House and we work closely with each division to determine which books are most appropriate to include in the eBook program. As the market evolves we are working to increase the percentage of our books that become eBooks, but ultimately, each division makes the final decision on which titles are included.
The many different formats are confusing to readers. What are publishers doing to alleviate that?
While we understand that this is a frustration, publisher hands are tied because we are not the ones manufacturing the devices and software. Right now, we can only wait and see if there will be one dominant platform. Until that time, Random House will provide their ebooks in as many platforms as appropriate. Currently, we provide our books in lit (Microsoft), prc (Mobipocket), pdf (Adobe), pdb Ereader, eti (Ebookwise) and Sony.
What trends do you see in ebooks?
The sales are starting to mimic print sales. It used to be that most of the ebook sales were science fiction and now the ebook bestseller lists correlate with the print bestsellers lists. Business books, suspence, thrillers and romance are selling well.
Where do you see ebook growth in the future?
Portable, multifunction handheld devices including mobile phones and the new Sony Reader are interesting opportunities. Technology is moving quickly and we are tracking the trends with devices and consumer behavior.
What about the library market?
The library market is very important to us as a company and we continue to evaluate the various options currently available.
What is Random House’s plans for ebooks?
We are working hard to build the “Long Tail “of our digital catalog as we explore new technologies, new devices and new business models.
I am afraid that type of program will increase the cost of ebooks.
You should be able to buy your ebook at the same prices in the past.
The pricing for ebooks seems high.
Currently, the ebooks released simultaneously with the hardcover are set at $17.95 which works out to be around a 30% discount, depending on the hardcover price. Trade ebooks are priced at $9.95 and mass markets at $6.99.
Jane’s note: I think every publisher should follow the Simon and Schuster policy and sell their ebooks 40% off the cover price
Anything that you can tell us about the Amazon Kindle?
What about the bookstore closing?
Please note that Random House strongly believes in ePublishing and will continue the eBook program at full speed. All of our titles are available at most eBook retailers including:
Thanks so much, Kelley Allen, for answering some questions. Readers, Ms. Allen invited me to check back in with her so if there were other questions you wished answered, please let me know.