Kevin Kelly has an extremely interesting article about the internet being an instant copy machine. In brief he states how the internet allows others to make digital copy after digital copy and in the end the copies become worthless. Kevin then poses the question how does one make money selling free copies?
This immediately had me thinking about e-books and all of the problems that are inherent with them.
Publishers still have it in their mind that they can stop this force, this thing they call the internet. They still believe DRMs will prevent free copies. It is not doing it now and will not in the future. It’s preventing the growth of ebook sales.
What am I to do as a consumer? Let’s say I want to read e-books. Hmmm, okay, do I buy a Kindle, Sony, Cybook or maybe an Iliad? Maybe you like the Sony. Then after 24 months of enjoyment, the new Kindle comes out, oh it is sexy. Very sleek, more powerful, it’s shiny red. I am going to have to buy one of those. (I am pretty sure that this is what goes on in Jane’s mind every time a new ebook reader is released). Wait, though, if I do that means I have to have a book burning. Every book that you have bought in the last 24 months for your Sony can not be read on your Kindle.
So where are we? Do we have a book burning every 2 years?
This takes me to Apple who has been down this road before except not with e-books but music and video. Everyone thought they were crazy breaking apart albums and selling individual songs. No one was going to make money. Then they went totally over the edge and started selling songs for $.99 and videos for $1.99. They were either suicidal or the market changed and we better change with it.
I love music and videos but I rarely in the past would purchase albums or dvd’s. In fact I have not bought an album since Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. That is until I bought my iphone. I have bought more albums and individuals songs in the last 6 months then I have in the last 30 years. I can use those songs anywhere and on nearly any medium. I also buy things from Apple that are free! Yes, stupid me, I buy cartoons that we could watch on the TV free for my iphone (so my daughter can watch them when we travel).
Advice to publishers? Drop the DRM, and drop the price of your e-books. Utilize static advertising to off-set the cost.