Sunday, January 28, 2018

Why are e-textbooks so expensive? Vertical integration and greed, mostly

The big textbook manufacturers McGraw-Hill and Pearson have long made a cash cow out of college students who have no choice but to purchase their traditional paper printed tomes. They moved into ebook publishing with predictable results:
Along with the traditional textbooks, many college classes now require students to purchase access codes—which cost $100 on average—to online platforms created by publishers such as McGraw-Hill and Pearson. Homework and quizzes are hidden on the platforms behind paywalls that expire after the semester, meaning students can’t resell them once they’re done with the course. - Laura McKenna in The Atlantic Monthly

Anyone who has published an ebook knows that it costs LESS not more than a traditional book. There is no printing cost. No returns. And a laughably small distribution cost.
Once an ebook is created and published on a platform, the marginal distribution cost is ZERO.

However, textbook manufacturers like Pearson, the largest bookseller in the world, have tapped into much more than book publishing. E-Textbooks are becoming part of an integrated platform which now includes AUTOMATIC GRADING BY THE PUBLISHER.

 Yes, you read that right. Not the professor, not the grad student, but the PUBLISHER.
Greg Mankiw’s class, “Economics 10a: Principles of Economics” is Harvard’s most popular course among undergraduates, attracting 633 students this past fall. As is the case in many introductory classes, students attend a combination of large lectures and smaller sections led by graduate assistants and visiting faculty. Mankiw, who himself only gives a handful of lectures per semester, assigns readings from a loose-leaf version of his own extremely lucrative textbook, Principles of Economics, donating royalties from books purchased by Harvard students to charity. In 2016, he started requiring students to purchase both the textbook and a code that gives them access to a digital platform known as MindTap. There, students complete their homework assignments and take exams, which are graded automatically on the publisher’s website. Students pay about $130 per year for the book and code, a discounted cost Mankiw negotiated with publishers for those at Harvard. - The Atlantic
The ebook, online assignments, tests and automatic grading all resemble a MOOC, but, of course, it costs much, much more. Higher education is becoming a vertically integrated ebusiness where the professor’s role is to contract with the publisher/exam creator/grader.

Read the complete article at « Why Students Are Still Spending So Much for College Textbooks:
New technologies are revolutionizing education—but they’re also keeping prices high. »  Laura McKenna in The Atlantic Monthly

Friday, July 11, 2014

Is it true that France has resisted ebooks?

MillePages in Vincennes, just outside of Paris

Q: I just read an article about how France has preserved its independent bookstores thanks to the French love of the physical book and strict rules limiting discounting. Is there really a "French exception" when it comes to books?

A: Yes, there is a French exception. And, as it is French, it is complicated to explain while being perfectly delightful to experience. For starters, books are in French. You'd be surprised how this limits predators from the US and UK. But, more to the point, publishing is highly regulated in France, with strict limits on discounts that keep book prices high, as well as a system of subsidies. Are high book prices good? That is a question that may merit debate.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Amazon vs Hachette: FAQ

NY reduced to rubble as monsters battle for profits !!!!

Q: Why is Amazon being mean to Hachette?

A: Sometimes, even though a Supplier and a Distributor love each other very very much, they have a disagreement over who should make the most money off a Product.

Q: You mean it's about money? That's horrible!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

If I publish an ebook, will I wreck my chances of getting a real publisher later?

A: It can. But it can also help. The answer is not clear cut. It depends on when and how you do it.

Q: How can publishing an ebook help me get a "real" publisher later?

A: If the ebook is a smash hit, a big publisher may well come to you with an offer to produce and market a paperback. Or an agent might show interest in representing you.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A small indie press offered to publish my ebook in return for 50% of the profits. Is this a good deal?

A: It can be, provided the publisher is able to provide support that is valuable to you. This can be financial, editorial, logistical, artistic, legal, social or – especially important to many authors these days, support, help and advice in marketing the ebook.

But if the publisher provides no support of any kind, then you might be better off publishing yourself directly on Amazon’s KDP, which offers self-published authors 70% of sales.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Do I need an editor for my ebook?

 In fact: two editors. A literary editor and a copy editor.
These days there are many options, from good writing groups, to paid services, to your publisher,
A good editor can make a book better.
And the best tip for success for a writer in the ebook era remains to write a good book.

Monday, December 23, 2013

What are the pros and cons of an ebook?

EBOOK Pros: 

Publishing ebooks is fast, it’s inexpensive, it costs nothing to distribute, and, if readers like your ebook, they can buy it in great numbers with no extra logistical or financial effort from you. 

A terrific ebook that thrills readers has every chance of getting noticed over time, especially if the basic backoffice work of writing a good description and accurate categories and key words has been carefully done and there is some communication.  

 Also, if you discover an error or something that needs to be changed, you can fix it pretty easily and republish – if you have been careful about keeping track of your files.


It is so easy to publish an ebook that overeager writers may rush to publish a book that’s not sufficiently edited, polished, or corrected. 

There is much competition.   

Major traditional reviewers won’t review ebooks. 

The act of publishing alone will not confer legitimacy; only great reviews and commercial success will. 

Also – and this is a big drawback for many authors – you cannot hold an ebook in your hand and sign it for your fans.