December 4th, 2011 / 11:34 am
Behind the Scenes & Presses & Snippets

Booksellers, concerned about the prevalence of eBooks, are making their print books look better, says this article in the NYTimes. The paperback of Jay-Z’s book has shiny embossing and costs $25.


  1. marshall

      the marginal cost of an ebook is very low

  2. MJ

      Sometimes I wonder if ebook vs paperbook boils down that scene in Demolition Man where Sly is about to have sex with Bullock and she recoils. Sex with lots of tongue and touching, or the existence of the act in a separated realm outside of your realm, though still sensible, read: observable.

  3. NLY

      In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the horse was killing the city, and the city was killing the horse.  The streets of London and New York were clogged with horse shit, horse shit of such quantities that it was almost impossible to keep them clean–horses of such quantity it was impossible to keep them fed, stabled, up-to-health, and in each other’s midst. Then the car came, and freed up those people who loved the horse to own one, and allowed the city to breathe again. As the current idea of the car–which hasn’t evolved substantially since its inception–ages and evolves, it will free up people who love their gas-powered beauties to keep them and use them to no real detriment to the world around them. The idea of the horse, the car, and the book as a function, gives way to horse, car, and book as luxury worth indulging. The question for the book becomes how peripheral, how central, how indulged, is its indulgence.

  4. Jon Boulier

      I own a Kindle and I buy tangible books, too.  More often, I’m taking stuff out from the library.  I don’t see e-books as a threat to printed books (this is another discussion), and I often consider the “luxury tax” of cost per purchase of printed books – especially lately – when it comes to the next book I’d like to read.  Simply, books are not cheap.  I’m trying to read books, not empty my wallet, when I’m looking to purchase my next read.  Adding glossy covers, foil prints, or deckle edging is not going to improve my reading experience, it’s going to increase the production cost, and it’s going to cost me more to buy at my local bookstore.  I love owning books.  But as a graduate student – studying writing, no less – I simply can’t afford to be buying hard copies of all the things I’m reading.  What good does it do to increase presentation and cost, in addition?  Make the god damned books cheaper.  I promise, Publisher XYZ, I really do, that I’ll buy your books more often if you make it affordable to do so.  This is also why I prefer reading a book from the library when it first comes out, rather than buying the $28.00+ hardcover edition initially released.  It’s also why I like to buy Used. Sure, presentation is great:  improve it if you can.  But don’t do so at the consequence of them costing us more.  In most cases, I prefer a hard copy.  And also, in the case of Infinite Jest – my last lengthy and weighty e-book read – I would love to have a digital edition be offered with my hard copy, which I’m purchasing in store.  I wanted to own Infinite Jest to write in, to fill with marginalia and mark pages off.  But, the digital edition was what I carried around all day to read.  Nobody wants to carry around a 3lb book.  The concerns here should be convenience, cost, and efficiency.  In all cases, if I can get away with it, I’d much rather spend less money to read a book than spend more on a book which contains the same reading experience (see:  mental, emotional, imaginative) but has a fancy cover.  In addition, this whole situation has a lot of analogs in the music industry, and the spread of digital music.  The most notable one right now is this:  the only people buying that $150 dollar, fancy, fun, and well-designed Radiohead album are die hard fans. No average listener is going to fork out that kind of money for some music.  If you want to reach a wider audience, and you want them to buy the books you’re printing, make them cheaper and easier to attain.  You’re going to end up with a smaller demographic of book-buyers, and you’re going to end up with less sales.  Expand the features of printed books that already exist, or think of new ones.  Make people want to buy hard copies, not shy away from them.  Don’t make them flee to digital formats wholly because you’re trying to keep up with the digital Joneses in ways that don’t even make sense to the medium or the new, and primary reasons people are leaving.

      Evolve and innovate.  Publishers, don’t be Myspace, desperately trying to integrate a new, younger competitor’s features into your existing formats to “catch up.”  We all know how that model works.

  5. Anonymous

      People want to buy good-looking books. Who knew?