‘The Iraq Study Group Report’ was published in the US last Wednesday by Random House’s Vintage Imprint at $10.95. It was an instant best seller clocking up 35,000 copies according to Nielsen BookScan and demanding a second printing.
The book was also released online on the same day, to coincide with the presentation from the committee, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, a Republican, and former Indiana representative Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, to President Bush and congressional leaders. The online version is hosted on the U.S. Institute of Peace website and also the James A. Baker Institute.
While the physical sales were an impressive 35,000 the online downloads from the two sites total was some 45 times greater at 1.6 million!
What was the difference? Ease of reading, ease of reference and search, readability. or the fact that the online versions were free. Price obviously is a major factor and now may have set expectations regarding future reports. Why pay when you can have it for free?
Its interesting to note that US government report that hit bookshelves, ‘The 9-11 Commission Report’, sold 134,000 copies in its debut week and since its publication, has sold more than 1,007,000 copies in hardcover and paperback. There are no figures regarding the online version downloads but it shows that many are prepared to pay for the physical copy despite the availability of the online version.
However, 1.6 million people choose to read the download which clearly shows that the demand is there for the right book and at the right price. We are in a Digital Age.
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