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Simon & Schuster to Put Content on Scribd

The subtext of every one of these types of posts is “If you can’t beat them, join them”. Scribd has become a haven for pirated content but given that it commands 50 million viewers per month, it has a market that is hard to ignore. Simon & Schuster is the most recent publisher to avail itself of the Scribd platform by making over 5,000 of its digital titles for perusal and ultimate sale on Scribd.

I think part of the strategy is to not only for publishers to expose themselves to Scribd’s audience but hopefully to reduce the possibility of Amazon becoming a dominating market force in digital publishing.

I linked to the Crain’s article because I thought this passage was particularly illuminating:

Ms. Pittis said that piracy is “probably pretty low in this country,” but worries about it more overseas, where millions of Scribd users live and where “there’s such a culture of piracy.” Asked to identify a book damaged commercially by piracy in another country, Pittis said she couldn’t, but added, “I don’t want a HarperCollins title to be the test case.”

Simon & Schuster’s prices are high. For example Seduce the Darkness by Gena Showalter has the “retail” price of $9.99 and is being sold at a fake “discounted” rate of $7.99. I say fake a) because someone from Simon & Schuster informed a reader at Dear Author that S&S was going to lower its ebook prices to be in line with its mass market equivalents and b) because it is a price higher than the mass market equivalents.

It will also be interesting to see if S&S maintains its policy to release the digital versions one week after the paper release. (If so, S&S, I think that is wildly stupid).

I hope that Simon & Schuster isn’t lying about its pricing to individual consumers who inquire about it. I have written for a clarification. I hope I get a response.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. DS
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 08:35:27

    Amazon Kindle version has it on pre-order for $6.39 with a release date the same day as the dead tree version.

    I don’t know why it is so hard for publishers to grasp that a lower price and instant gratification drives a lot of ebook sales and would probably drive a lot more. Are they still not thinking of the reader as their customer?

  2. Mireya
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 08:46:14

    I wonder if they will ever wake up…

  3. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 09:16:34

    I wonder if they will ever wake up…

    Not until ebooks make up more than the itsy-bitsy amount of sales that they do now (from everything I’ve read it’s about 1-2% for most NY pubbed books). I just got my royalty statements and my ebook sales are 2.6% of my total earnings. So while the AAP reported that ebook sales were up 228.3%, it's kind of misleading. Most people and businesses are-’logically, IMO–going to focus on where the majority of their money comes from, and mine and my publishers comes from the sale physically printed books. Will this always be so? No, I'm sure it won't be, but it will be for the foreseeable future.

  4. TerryS
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 10:54:57

    Reader here. I’ve been following the S&S $9.99 situation on Ereader (Fictionwise). When the $9.99 practice started, all of the back list for an author with a new release was also increased from the mass market equivalent price they had been for years to $9.99. To date, since S&S said they were changing pricing to not more than the mass market equivalent, the ONLY change has been the back list is now where it began. The new release that I could buy at any bookstore in town for $7.50 (less with discounts), however, is still priced at $9.99 for a digital copy. It will stay on my ebook wish list until S&S sees the light and makes changes across the board. Until then, there are plenty of other books to be read and a sale has been lost.

  5. Statch
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 16:04:16

    I think comments no. 3 and 4 point out a vicious cycle. Market share won’t increase while the publishers play these kinds of games with consumers. (I’m trying to stick to a policy of not buying the book at all — in ebook or hardcopy form — if the publisher does this. At most, though, I buy the heavily discounted Wal-Mart version if I just have to have the book.)

    Also, am I wrong that it’s harder for readers outside the United States to buy legal versions of DRM-encumbered ebooks? I thought there were regional licenses or permissions involved. There’s an Australian Harlequin writer I like, for example; her works are available in Australia a year or more before they’re available in the U.S. I tried to buy them from the Australian Harlequin site and couldn’t. That could certainly encourage piracy. (I paid big bucks for overseas shipping for the books because I couldn’t do that to her, but people in other countries may not have that option for U.S.-published books, depending on where they live. I know that in a couple of countries I’ve lived in, shipping books is prohitively expensive.)

  6. FD
    Jun 15, 2009 @ 12:16:05

    No, you’re entirely right, Statch. Speaking as someone living in such a benighted, out-of-the-way, niche market, pirate-riddled country like England, it can be very difficult to obtain some titles.

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