Skip to content

HarperCollins Delays E-Books

December 11, 2009

The third major publishing house in two days has decided to delay the electronic-book publication of some titles next year, as the debate over the timing and pricing of e-books heats up.

In an interview, Brian Murray, chief executive of News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers, said that beginning in January or February, HarperCollins will delay the e-book publication of five to 10 new hardcover titles each month. The delays are expected to range from four weeks to six months, depending on the book.

“We’re going to experiment with this,” Mr. Murray said. “Each new e-book represents a potential new marketing opportunity at a time when we need every possible hook to get consumer attention.”

Fewer Choices
Mr. Murray said that if new hardcover titles continue to be sold as $9.99 e-books, the eventual outcome will be fewer literary choices for customers, because publishers won’t be able to take as many chances on new writers.

He added that he is also interested in an enhanced e-book with social-media applications, video and author interviews. In theory, it would command a higher price and could be sold through Apple Inc.’s App Store.

News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.

On Tuesday, CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster publishing arm said it would delay the e-book publication of an estimated 35 adult and teen titles that it will publish through April 2010. The e-book editions will be delayed for four months.

Similarly, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, which publishes such writers as Stephenie Meyer and James Patterson, said it intends to delay the e-book publication of many titles in 2010 for three to four months.

Each publisher voiced concern that the popularity of cheap, $9.99 e-book best sellers available simultaneously with new hardcovers endangers the publishing industry’s future.

One analyst warned that the efforts to stem the growing popularity of $9.99 e-books is unlikely to succeed.

“Every once in a while, a media business that appears to understand the digital reality quickly reverts under pressure and starts acting like a last-century business,” said James McQuivey, principal analyst for Consumer Media Technology at Forrester Research Inc. “If you give people digital content, they’ll actually consume more of it. But if you withhold it from them, you are motivating them to buy somebody else’s book, or to consider piracy, something which hasn’t yet hit the book industry but probably will next year.”

Earlier this year, the Harper imprint of HarperCollins delayed until Dec. 26 the e-book edition of Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue.” The hardcover, which has become one of the season’s biggest titles, went on sale Nov. 17. Mr. Murray said that the success of “Going Rogue” factored into his decision to delay some e-book publications in 2010.

“We have to believe that delaying the e-book edition helped hardcover sales,” he said. Inc.’s Web site is currently taking pre-orders for the Kindle electronic edition of the title at $7.99, a 72% discount off the $28.99 cover price.

John Makinson, chief executive of Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group, noted that Penguin is watching the current situation with interest. “We may undertake trial pricing, and defer publication from time to time, but we won’t systematically delay the publication of e-books,” he said. Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Bertelsmann AG’s Random House publishing arm, declined comment.

Impact of Competition
Many in the industry worry about the impact of competition from cut-rate digital media. John Marmaduke, CEO of Hastings Entertainment Inc., a publicly traded book and music retailer based in Amarillo, Texas, said “the digital model is to offer new products below cost, capture market and then build a digital monopoly that is very profitable.”

One veteran literary agent in New York, Nat Sobel, a partner at Sobel Weber Associates, has been trying to rally publishers to the fight against cheap e-books. In a letter sent to 16 publishing houses last week, he urged them to consider postponing releases of e-books. Warning that e-books could constitute 20% of sales next year, he wrote, “The future of hardcover publishing is at stake. You don’t have a lot of time left to save it.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 2:11 am

    I’m just throwing this out there… Hayden Pantierre would’ve made a great Bella Swan.

    • quay1218 permalink
      January 9, 2010 3:37 am

      Thanks! An awesome link!

  2. September 29, 2010 10:16 pm

    Write A growing number of sites will pay for your articles or blog posts. Associated Content and Helium will “pay for performance” based on page views for just about anything you want to write about. Articles on specific topics they’re looking for can earn direct payments up to about $200. The rates are probably low for established writers, but if you’re trying to break into the field and have time on your hands, they’re a great way to start. Also, a lot of companies are looking for part-time bloggers. They may pay per post or on a steady contract. Our Weblogs Guide posts blogging jobs weekly in the forum

  3. February 15, 2011 11:46 am

    Want to unlock your PS3? Unlock

  4. March 29, 2011 11:10 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: