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Why Aren’t Publishers Pushing E-Books?
In a post discussing a tweet from author Brent Weeks last week Nate wondered, in his blog post “Not All of Us Drink a $4 Coffee, Mr. Weeks,” why publishers aren’t “trying to convert paper book buyers to E-Books buyers,” considering that publishers make more money on E-Books than on mass market paperbacks

Setting aside the question of whether publishers make more money on E-Books than on mass market paperbacks, the question is truly piercing: Why aren’t publishers trying to convert readers to E-Books?

We can begin with the proposition that E-Books are clearly the tsunami of the future for reading. It is not that the demand for P-Books will disappear entirely, just that E-Books will become greater than a majority share of the book market. One would think that publishers would want to grab the brass ring early while they can still steer the market.

Under the current scheme of things, E-Books are a much better investment than P-Books for publishers. If I buy a P-Books, I can share it with an infinite number of friends, none of whom has to buy his or her own copy as long as they are willing to wait. In contrast, assuming I don’t pirate the E-Books, every one of my friends who wants to read the E-Books has to buy a copy.

OK, I realize that I cannot just shunt aside the pirating problem as if it didn’t exist, but there is a certain reality to pirating — the very vast majority of readers do not pirate E-Books. Instead, they buy a copy and if they share it, it is shared only among immediate family, often by letting the family member borrow the reading device. It is a small number of readers who post pirated copies of books and a small number who go to the trouble of finding them and downloading them.

Offsetting, I think, what believe the cost of pirating to be — or at least a goodly portion of that cost – are that with E-Books, publishers have no physical inventory to maintain, no cost of returns (unsold and overinventoried pbooks are returned by booksellers), errors can be inexpensively fixed (i.e., books do not need to be destroyed and entire print runs lost; with E-Books, the errors can be fixed and the E-Books replaced very inexpensively), and sales are certain (under the P-Book wholesale model, the publisher sells P-Books to a bookstore but doesn’t know how much it will ultimately be paid for the P-Books because they are subject to returns by both the consumer and the bookseller; contrast this with how the E-Books market works). I’m sure there are other offsetting features of E-Books.