Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Not Digital First?

Dan Brown's new novel, The Lost Symbol, is due out next month and Knopf DoubleDay, have announced that an ebook download will be released simultaneously. So will the ebook release prove the stimulus to make consumers buy ebook readers and go digital, or will it be just another baby step along the digital path?

So we have a potential bestseller competing with itself in physical and digital form. However this raises the question of what is different between the two renditions? If all we are doing is taking the print copy and transferring it to digital, then the consumer gains little from the digital experience and has to invest in a reader to boot. If however, the digital work came with extras, then we could see an attraction in added value that would be similar to film outtakes.

We still await the 'Dickens move', where a publisher releases potential bestseller digitally in chapters first and even as Dickens and King did, as it was being written. This could prove a significant ebook moment, with even the physical book being released in line with the final instalment. Someday soon, someone will take that brave and exciting route.

The other challenge we face today with such high profile dual releases is that of restricted channels. Not only are the channels restricted, but they are also controlled by those who have the greatest leverage to deep discount. So Dan Brown now presents us with another ‘Harry Potter moment’, where the industry sells off its greatest assets at the greatest discount and where volume speaks louder than profit.

With more than 81m copies of The Da Vinci Code sold across the world, the impact of a simultaneous release of this new work will however still be interesting to watch.

No comments: