When is a book not a book? This week, that riddle has two possible answers.
A book is not a book when it’s an e-book, of course. When the Hachette Book Group reported their fourth quarter results this week, e-book sales fell year over year, and now make up 22 percent of the publishers sales, down from 26 percent in 2014.
“I think it is now clear that higher e-book prices [as a result of a move to ‘agency’ pricing models for Amazon] are driving down e-book sales,” notes Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “How much this is driving readers back to print, however, remains an open question. Is the industry changing or influencing format choices by raising e-book prices, or are they losing readers?”
In the case of the continuing adventures of everyone’s favorite wizard, the next-to-be-published installment isn’t really a book either. According to Albanese, the Blair Partnership, J.K. Rowling’s literary and brand management agency, has announced the launch of a publishing program of new print and digital titles from J.K. Rowling including a “special rehearsal edition” of the script book of the the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II,which begins its run at London’s Palace Theatre this summer.
“The play – written by Jack Thorne and based on an original story by Rowling, Thorne, and John Tiffany – catches up with Harry Potter 19 years after the epilogue in the final book of the series,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “We’ll see what a new Potter book will do for sales—but it’s worth noting that this is not a new Potter novel. It’s going to be interesting to see how Rowling manages expectations of her fans, many of who seem to be under the impression that indeed a new book is coming.”
Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.