BTB #157: Cory Doctorow Plays ‘The Price Is Right’ For E-Books

Cory DoctorowSounding more like a college economics professor than a bestselling sci-fi author, Cory Doctorow offers his suggestions for how publishers should arrive at the “right price” for e-books. As for copyright, he defends “fair use” and questions strict interpretations of the phrase, “all rights reserved.”

For publishers, authors and their readers, 2010 will likely go down as the year when e-books finally and decisively won a permanent place in the literary hierarchy. At Beyond the Book, we’re following this story from a number of angles, and we will continue this special coverage in coming weeks with a focus series on e-books available on BlogTalkRadio.

Meanwhile, our regular reporting on the publishing and media industry continues here at Beyond the Book.

6 Responses to “BTB #157: Cory Doctorow Plays ‘The Price Is Right’ For E-Books”

  1. Yve Poole, THE MUSE DEFINED February 28, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Very insightful, this advice is insightful for more than just literature. Thanks for this!

  2. thorn March 2, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    interestingly, although publishing is a ‘mature’ industry there really are still eyes to be gained. i’m hearing anecdotally that since e-books have started to become a viable sector, there are now many adults enjoying long-form reading for the first time since college, or even since high school. these are people who would never have gone to barnes & noble in their own behalf.

    the attitude that reading is a frivolous pastime did not die with the era of emma bovary. there are still people in the world who look on reading — particularly the reading of fiction — as frivolous. i personally know several people who feel that reading is important for children; but that adults should be making more constructive use of their time. however, when one has an electronic device in one’s hand, one could be doing just about *anything*. checking one’s calendar. updating a contact. or reading a book. even a dedicated reading device does not necessarily register as a ‘book’ to the outside observer. this can be liberating to the person desiring serenity and a measure of privacy to read, and it really does have potential to contribute to the growth of the market.

    the other area for potential growth lies among the people who already read a great deal. this is a population that tends to buy far more books than it will be able to read in a lifetime. why gouge such people with higher book prices? just get them to buy more books. add to this the fact that, there are those who still have print versions of some very large texts, who are *re*buying them in e (i have done this myself). that may be a temporary ‘blip’, but it is still significant as another place where more units could be sold in this so-called mature market; at least for now.

    publishers have not traditionally paid much attention to growing their own knowledge of people’s reading habits and, more importantly, their book-buying habits, because they’ve spent their main energy marketing to booksellers, and have left it to the booksellers to ‘understand book-people’. publishers stand to benefit in a fairly serious way from taking the trouble to do so now. particularly when one considers that in a robust e-book market — one in which no title need ever go out of print again — those who have not yet been born become potential customers. because ‘if you haven’t read it yet, it’s new to you.’

  3. maureen March 2, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    One correction: one can download one’s Kindle titles to (so far) one’s iPod, one’s Blackberry and one’s PC. So (so far) a broad range of reading devices.


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