Only Branding Can Save the ebook Industry

Jay Garmon writes in The New Sleekness about ebooks, branding, authors and publishers. If only Marshall McLuhan were alive today...

"A solid brand is the only way anyone is going to make sustainable money, long term, directly from e-book sales. This is not to say that e-books will sell in the same numbers, or for the same prices, as physical books. This is also not to say that e-book publishing houses are going to look anything like physical book publishing houses. This is simply an argument that the only value that the consumer is going to consistently place on an e-book is its brand value.

e-book pricing is viewed by many consumers as wildly out of step with the perceived value of the product. No matter how you parse the numbers or sketch out production costs or trot out sob stories of how scandalously little money the average writer makes, consumers simply don’t perceive an intangible good as having the same value as a tangible good. Thus, if you want e-books to sell, you simply can’t price them the same as physical books. It doesn’t matter if it’s reasonable. It doesn’t matter if it’s fair. To turn a profit in a competitive market economy, a producer is obligated to deliver a product at a price lower than the perceived consumer value. If Producer A (in this case established publishing houses) can’t do it, Producer B (some new e-book publisher, like maybe Amazon itself ) will do so."

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