Okay, so Sarah Palin finished writing her 400-page book in four months*. That’s some hard working. Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, took one look at the manuscript and pushed the release date to November 17, 2009. As with Ted Kennedy’s memoir, initial print run will be 1.5 million copies.
Fine. All well and good so far. Nothing to consider, nothing to worry about. Unless the books don’t move, in which case, well, hmm, those poor trees.
The problem comes with this kind of thinking:
As with the Kennedy book, the digital edition of Palin’s memoir will not be released at the same time as the hardcover. “Going Rogue” will not be available as an e-book until Dec. 26 because “we want to maximize hardcover sales over the holidays,” Harper spokeswoman Tina Andreadis said Monday.
Publishers have been concerned that e-books, rapidly becoming more popular, might take away sales from hardcover editions, which are more expensive.
People, please. Get over yourselves. Yes, the ebook will drain away some hardcover sales — many of those customers are already lost to you. They choose ebooks for their own convenience, not yours. There is absolutely no evidence that withholding the ebook will encourage ebook readers to purchase the hardcover instead. None. Zilch. Nada. Not one iota. Zippo.
It’s more likely that withholding the ebook version will result in a lost sale. Let’s be realistic about this. The salacious and/or interesting parts will be excerpted and analyzed in the media (blogs, magazines, news sources) almost immediately after publication. Or, if the New York Times remains true to itself, before publication. That’s going to siphon off a good portion of the potential audience.
The ebook customer, a reader who for various reasons opts against print books, is going to carefully weigh the decision to buy this book over a month after initial release. If that reader remembers to make the purchase at all. This is a customer who makes a choice against print. They will not shrug and say, “Well, I guess I don’t have a choice. Gimme the hardcover.”
Maximizing hardcover sales over the holidays only works if a reader must absolutely have that book. Is the Sarah Palin memoir — premature, as many memoirs seem to be — going to be so compelling that it will be a huge holiday gift item (beyond her base)? There needs to be something amazing in this book to sustain interest over the long-term. Something that compels the ebook reader to make a purchase well after the good stuff has been dissected and analyzed.
Given the history of books of this nature, I’m not feeling it.
I suppose I am baffled by the business decision to alienate a growing segment of the reading public in an effort to protect another, especially when the result is most likely to be no sale at all. Makes no sense at all.
* – Yes Virginia, I am fully aware of the ghostwriter. Still, that was fast.