Kirkus Reviews closed this week, affecting booksellers and librarians as they choose books to stock the shelves. Three major publishers announced plans to delay major titles in electronic format. Will this affect audiobook readers?
You may not recognize Kirkus Reviews, but booksellers and libraries relied on the journal to guide them. Relying on the reviews as advisors, decisions were made for what titles would be the best purchases. Other businesses with similar services include Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. The major difference between Kirkus and its competitors was the tone of the reviews. Kirkus tended to be idiosyncratic.
Booksellers also used the publication to provide assistance to customers. If a title was inquired upon and the bookseller had not read it, they might turn to Kirkus for information. Unfortunately, it seems that it was being read less and less often.
Tech lovers are embracing the convenience of eBook readers, despite their flaws. Amazon, Sony, and most recently Barnes and Noble all have eBook readers available. The issue that is going to be a problem is that publishers are about to put a big kink in the convenience factor.
When Amazon first pushed the eBook reader to new heights with the Kindle, it offered many titles, including bestsellers, for about $10 USD.
This value has pushed Sony and Barnes and Noble to attempt to match Amazon’s prices. Publishers make the largest profits on the sale of hardcover books which generally cost $25 or more. The low eBook prices are eating into those profits, pushing publishers to look at ways to fight back.
The solution is one that will likely infuriate eBook lovers. Starting next year, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and Harper Collins are planning to delay eBook versions of some titles. In other words, when your favorite author releases a new book, you may have to wait up to four months for the electronic version to become available for download.
Even though I don’t have a Kindle or a nook yet, this news troubles me. It feels like a manipulation. I have to believe that there are a lot of cost savings between eBooks and hardcovers. They should cost less. And consumers should not be punished for choosing an electronic format. While publishers are concerned that eBook purchases will decrease hardcover sales, I think that it will promote more overall sales.
If I had a reader (I hope someone buys me one for Christmas!), I would be more likely to purchase an eBook for $10 than a hardcover for much more.
At this point, audiobooks have been left out of the picture. Titles that are in mp3 format are playable on the latest devices, but those using Kindle’s text-to-speech feature will be affected.
Let’s hope this can be resolved in a way that benefits publishers, authors, and consumers…