It was announced today that Amazon will produce a Kindle edition of Dan Brown's new book, "The Lost Symbol," available the day it is published - September 15. The news was positioned as Amazon sidestepping a battle with publisher Doubleday/Random House on the issue of when the e-book would be available as Amazon has pressed for a $9.99 top price for this or any e-book. If Amazon stuck to its $9.99 price, and clearly they did, the question for the publisher becomes whether the e-book, in every format, is made available at hardcover publication or later.
Today's announcement is not Amazon sidestepping a battle with Random House -- it's a pricing battle Random House lost.
What financially embattled publisher (and they're all financially embattled) wants to publish a hardcover edition of its biggest book in six years ("The Da Vinci Code" sold 40 million in hardcover through 2005) carrying a retail price of $29.95 at the same time as the $9.99 Kindle edition? It's like having the paperback out at the same time as the hardcover. The pricing of Dan Brown's Kindle edition was a precedent and the entire publishing industry was awaiting the outcome.
It's done: Kindle editions will be $9.99 and the consumer habit will be ingrained.
Great for readers, but what does this mean for publishing? Preparing a book for print or electronic reader incurs the same costs: There are editors, copy editors and designers no matter whether a book is printed or published electronically. And $9.99 just doesn't cover the margins.