Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Roots Of Revolution Pt 1

It's fine to talk about a sea change and paradigm shift in publishing because of e-books. It's better to talk about how a lot of people are going to make huge amounts of money. But exactly what changed and how does it open opportunities for authors?

Actually there are several changes coming together. Let's start with the most basic.

The Marginal Cost To Produce
The Next Copy Of An E book Is About Zero

In other words, once you've got your book written, copy edited and set up on the web site, the cost to provide a customer with a copy is very nearly zero. Oh, there's the cost of storing the book on the system and servicing the order, but it's so small as to be negligible.

This is very different from the situation with printed books. At the least, such books have to be printed, paper and ink purchased, and the product packed and trucked to bookstores. Just printing and binding a typical book costs $2. So the absolute cost of a book can't go below $2 (plus shipping, etc.) or the publisher loses money on every copy.

Two dollars versus zero is a pretty big difference, but wait (the announcer says) there's more. In fact there's a lot more. In the next blog post I'll look at some of the built-in costs of printed books that aren't necessary to produce the book but are built into the system.

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