The other day I was bouncing around the iBookstore when I came across a tab for "Books by Chuck Klosterman." I clicked the tab and 30 or so titles popped up. These were actually single essays for 99 cents or a $1.99.
This is a bold move for a book publisher as books, like magazines and cable television, are sold as bundles.
The typical Klosterman release is a bundle of 18 or so essays, typically retailing in soft cover for 15 or 16 bucks. To get one, you'd need to get them all. But that's no longer the case, as you can purchase them individually in digital form.
When this type of content is no longer bundled, I have trouble differentiating it from really long blog posts. In fact, Klosterman's latest collection, Eating the Dinosaur consists of essays broken up into brief snippets, which makes the experience feel even more like reading a printed-and-bound blog as opposed to a book.
What makes this doubly bizarre is the fact it's the exact inverse of blogs becoming books, like the Stuff White People Like or Stuff Hipsters Hate which was created by Mashable News Editor, Brenna Ehrlich. That both these practices are occurring at the same time, book to blog or blog to book, signals disruption, sure, but also a lot of confusion for consumers.
Why? Take for instance Choire and Balk of The Awl. I may have read Klosterman's stuff in greater depth -- which is the experience books create, or at least used to -- but I read The Awl more frequently than anything by Klosterman.
The Awl is free, but I have to pay for a Klosterman digital experience. Why? Because he's a better writer? Then this begs the question, is Klosterman a better writer than, say, Paul Krugman? I don't know, but I do know I read Krugman all day, every day for free.
Publishers are not going to have an easy way figuring out the value-cost trade-off for reading "experience." But they really should, or convergence will kill them.
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