Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Readers, rejoice!

Has there ever been as volatile a time in the publishing industry?

In this corner, we have the big box retailers (Target, Wal Mart) duking it out with Amazon on the average cost of hardcover books. On Monday, Target began offering selected books for $8.99--the same price as Wal Mart had been offering since the prior Friday. (These prices are for select titles on the websites of both retailers.)

Wal Mart initially offered the books for $10 but then dropped its price to $9 once Amazon went to that price point. And, when Target went to $8.99, Wal Mart countered with an $8.98 price.

The books being offered aren't low interest titles--the list includes Sarah Palin's upcoming book, Going Rogue; Under the Dome by Stephen King; I, Alex Cross by James Patterson; and Ford Country, a short-story collection from John Grisham. All of the books are soon-to-be-published.

In the e-book space, Barnes & Noble launched its entry, Nook, yesterday. The Nook is priced the same as Amazon's successful Kindle at $259.

While data on e-book sales is being interpreted differently, given that e-book owners tend to be the more voracious readers of books, there is no debating the growth in digital book publishing as more and more entrants jump into this space. That competition is good for those who own or plan to purchase e-readers--prices should be competitive this holiday season and, hopefully, the price point on e-books will reduce as well. (Amazon currently sells most e-titles for $9.99 each.)

As a personal testimony, every time I pull out my Kindle on a flight I get asked "do you like it" by a seatmate or flight attendant. And, my answer is always an exuberant "yes!"

Stay tuned as this reading drama continues to play itself out.

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