TOC Online eBook Conference Highlights

Some notes I made during the O’Reilly Tools of Change eBook conference (I only got to see the first hour):

O’ selling twice as many eBooks today as they did last year, most are going overseas.

eBook pricing panel:

  • Bundling was a big topic – bundling eBook formats together and/or bundling the e and p.
  • Clear dropoff for eBook purchases that are priced higher that $10.  People seem to be comfortable spending the $9.99.
  • FREE – should work itself out, maybe giving certain things away will generate more sales, free drives more interest and the key is finding a way to keep that interest and turn it into revenues.
  • Scribd –  Goal is to have a community decide on the prices, they will drive them up/down.  ecommerce capability – automated pricing -scribd sets price based on an algorithm. Introduce authors to younger audiences by offering free title, first in series – had 50K reads on free copy, generating new interest in the author. Tying e and p – should see more experimentation with this and flipping around – e first, p first, same time, etc. Power of social media huge opportunity.  People who aren’t well known can generate an audience through the social media tools – offering free content to gain attention, and then negotiating print contracts with publishers.
  • Lexcycle – bundle should be determined by genre of books.  It may work better with some genres.  Looking forward to dynamic pricing – first week price is higher (print book not out), every week thereafter it drops in price, all the way to free. Rewards program – locks customers in, constant reminders of promotional emails. Free – get well known author’s backlist title(1st in series) and offer it for free.  Hopefully this will drive more sales to the subsequent titles. Get wide adoption and monetize what you can. There are lots of folks who feel that free isn’t a great thing.
  • Shortcovers – consumer attitudes toward eBook pricing – can’t lend it, resell it, can’t put it on their bookshelf – so they walk themselves back from a higher print price to a lower eBook price. Thinks selling eBook versions in bundles is a good idea – easy for readers to change devices depending on where they are.  New free title – aggregate sales go up, because they are looking at other things.  Some people see eBooks as a means of consuming free content.  Others use it as an experiment, once successful will purchase.  Look at free chapters, not just free eBooks. Try out the book and see if you like it.  What is the optimal length of the free trial?
  • Bookoven – expects to see more people interacting with books.  eBooks give a range of opportunity that you can’t get with print.  Would like to see bundling – e and p together.  Leave it open to authors and publishers to price items.  Scribd should have the best data coming out about what will work with the consumers.  Another aspect of free – look at the Infrastructure of the web, people are likely to link to things that are free which gives your site more “juice” in search engines.  You are more visible to the people who will be buying. Tying print content to e – bundling is something consumers will do more frequently.  Value to publishers is time – if you have the book in more formats, you are likely to read it faster and purchase the next title sooner.
  • O’Reilly – consumers like to buy the various eBook versions in a bundle.  Gap b/t willingness to pay anything vs. free is enormous.  Free things tend to go unused.  Any price, no matter how low, has a particular engagement factor.
  • Panelists didn’t seem too high on multimedia enhancements to eBooks.  Cost for production is quite high, is there a real payoff? Most consumers see the electronic version as being a reduced price of the print book.
  • Augmented reality – recommend we check this out (uTube videos out there).  Possibilities are out there for this – think about travel guides.