Lately, I have learned far more about publishing than I ever knew before. I can now fully appreciate the sentiment that publishing is more like an organized hobby for writers than an actual industry. The same holds for musicians and other artists. A lucky few gets heavily promoted and autotuned or the literary equivalent. Thus in the end consumers get what they are willing to pay for which seems to be the price of a club sandwich or a pair of pants. This necessitates scales of mass production which means that all products must be designed for the most common denominator to sell leaving other products uncompetitive and unavailable only being able to survive on a hobby basis. This is a consumer choice with interesting consequences. But I digress …
Now, quite a few people have asked me, why not publish as an e-book?
The primary problem with e-books is that they are easily pirated. Selling them thus becomes a run against time before they become widely available. When it comes to piracy I tend to believe that pirates don’t make their decisions based on price but as a matter or principle (or lack thereof). Why pay a finite amount when you can pay zero?
Hence an e-book would require a systemwide launch trying to get as many people to purchase it before it becomes “freely” available.
This seems to be the only profitable way to do it.
The alternative is to give the content away for free and find other ways of income. Like advertising.
Of course this is an option too, but the most interesting to me is really the demand curve because it attaches an integral exogenous value, literally, to the product. A zero price leaves the value undefined.
Since everything depends on the launch, an ebook is a high risk proposition. I could see this one-shot method being viable for a project that only took a few months to make. However, for a project that took two years to make, it seems more like a shot on the foot.
In summary, like with many other things in this saturated universe of ours is to find the right “fit” for the product. So far I am still favoring Print-on-Demand because it means that the product can be kept in circulation, essentially forever, beating out even major publishers (as far as I understand).