Some Publishers to Delay eBook Releases

Paul Lilly

Amazon's Kindle is the hottest selling item across the company's entire site, and Barnes & Noble can't make enough Nook readers to satisfy demand. It would appear that e-book readers are poised to become as popular as netbooks, and that's good news all around, right? You would think so, but there are a handful of publishers playing the part of Scrooge this holiday season.

Simon & Schuster, for example, has decided to delay by four months the electronic book editions of some 35 leading titles coming out in 2010. Why? Because the publisher's not happy with the low $9.99 pricing of e-book best sellers. And they're not alone. Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group is taking a similar stance, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback," said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS Corp. "We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed base of e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible."

That's a perplexing statement, considering it probably won't be long before the install base balloons anyway. Albert Greco, a professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business who studies the book industry, predicts that the e-book retail sales could climb as highs as $201 million next year, up from $150 million this year.

"In the Internet age you don't enjoy the same degree of control," said Eric Garland, CEO of BigChampagne, LLC, an online media measurement company in Beverly Hills, California. "You can't create artificial scarcity by withholding content in one form and making it available in another."

Or can they?

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