e-Publishing is developing apace. One advocate has established a marketing model based on the exchange price of the cost of a high street coffee
The pricing story was told in a blog published from the venerable London School of Economics or LSE [not to be confused with the London Stock Exchange, also known as the LSE].
The blog post by David Gauntlett describes his experiment and suggests a method of pricing e-books, based on the price of lattes.
Until the mid 1990s, people booked holidays via a travel agent, which seemed normal and fine. Since then, the role of ‘travel agent’ has come to seem weird – why would we want to give an extra slice of money to someone for doing a task which we can easily do for ourselves online?
Similarly, if you needed to sell things that you owned but didn’t want any more, you would naturally have to consult a second hand shopkeeper – and probably get ripped off by them; until we reached the point where you would obviously just do it yourself on eBay.
These kinds of digital transformations – cutting out the middle people – are creeping across the face of academic life, but more slowly than you might expect.
So, I put together a collection of previously-published pieces, revised and with some new material, as a Kindle book. I called it Media Studies 2.0, and Other Battles around the Future of Media Research, and put it on sale for £3.80. (Friends had suggested that I shouldn’t make it too cheap, as that would undermine people’s respect for it. Therefore I settled on £3.80 as a price which I thought sounded somehow quite authoritative whilst still being highly affordable).
I publicised the book via my website and Twitter. On one occasion I noted in a promotional tweet that it was ‘cheaper than two lattes’ (16 September 2011), which seemed like a reasonable way of looking at it.
In the same summer I also had a ‘proper’ book out, Making is Connecting, published by Polity. And for some commercial or bureaucratic reason, Polity have so far failed to come to an agreement with Amazon to make their books available on Kindle. Therefore we arrived at a ‘natural experiment’ where circumstances had conspired to have a Kindle book by me, and a wholly paper-based book by me, newly out at the same time, so that we could compare their fates.
What happened next?
The book published by the traditional method is currently outselling the Kindle one. The author lists the methodological weaknesses in his trial. Nevertheless I find this a valuable starting point to consider the future of e-publishing for the pioneering author
Writing is a compulsion that can strike at any time. If you find this blog interesting, check for the tell-tale symptoms of the Midnight Disease [I am writing this at roughly 4 am ].
To go more deeply
The LSE also published earlier reports on e-publishing that are worth following up.
In the interests of market research, I have produced two posts on this topic which provide roughly the same information, but dressed up in different formats and with different titles. They have been tagged identically, and have been published on the same day. [I have avoided adding media images as these might influence hits.] I will be watching with interest to see over time whether one post attracts more visits, visitors, and ‘likes’, than the other.