Bonus Material: Is Delaying the E-book Version a Good Idea?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Bran Hambric by Kaleb Nation

Sourcebooks, an independent publisher based in Chicago, made headlines earlier this year when they announced they would delay the publication of the e-book edition of Kaleb Nation’s Bran Hambric for at least six months in order to avoid online cannibalization of the print edition—or perhaps to prevent Nation’s vast online fan base from finding a way to break the DRM and distribute the book illegally. (Read our article by Kaleb Nation here.)

What’s more, the practice is becoming increasingly more commonplace, as more and more titles, such as Ted Kennedy’s True Compass and Stephen King’s Under the Dome (published this week) will have staggered e-book releases. King’s novel, in particular, is getting special treatment: It will be released as an e-book at 12:01 a.m. on December 24 and be priced at $35—same as the hardcover.

What’s interesting to note is that while this may, at first glance, seem like a reasonable, if not logical, strategy, it could also be an example of missing an opportunity. Doubleday released Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol as an e-book simultaneously with the hardcover and saw record first-day sales, as people rushed to buy the book as soon as possible. E-book sales for the title fell dramatically in the following days,  but it proved that a book with high initial demand can take advantage of, well, initial demand. (Sales of The Lost Symbol have not been as consistently strong as one might have hoped, though it still sits at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list.)

We’re curious to know what you think of the strategy of delaying an e-book release of a hot new title? Is this a good model for making the most of a high priced hardcover? A foolish strategy that is losing sales? Or something in between?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.