Friday, November 24, 2006

Review copies on eBay

Today we read that printed review copies are being sold on eBay.

What is better for the review copy, it potentially finding a good home or being effectively binned? Merely stating it is not for resale or “marking it” has never stopped books finding their way onto the market. I am reminded of those churches that have signs that forbid the use of confetti at weddings. We must be realistic.

Anyone who has ever had the wonderful experience of visiting a certain famous bookstore off Union Square in New York will be aware that there is almost an entire floor devoted to review copies! Some even contain notes or original letters and some have never been opened. I always feel sad when i see mint books that have been "felt tipped" or scored to mark as not being for resale.

However, the emerging digital world offers many potential and additional benefits to today’s scattering of seeds. Digital content offers the opportunity to send digital sample, review and inspection copies, a practice that some have already adopted. This could be the full book, or sample chapters and may be distributed before the book has even come off the press. Importantly, the delivery can be effectively targeted, the rights controlled and significant cost reduced whilst interest and potential sales are maintained.

Some will argue that people want to touch and feel see the physical book but some may be happy to sample it digitally. There is no right or wrong answer, only opportunities to think and act differently and avoid trying to put the horse back into the stable after it’s bolted.

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