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Author Topic: An experiment in publishing  (Read 987 times)
Neil Folberg
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« on: June 28, 2013, 12:54:24 AM »
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Hello,

My book, "Serpent's Chronicle" has just been published in three formats by Abbeville Press: a $5.95 iBook with audio/video content, traditional hardbound book at $29.95 and a boxed, limited Collector's Edition at $650. That is quite a price spread! As we all know, the commercial market for printed books today is difficult; this is an attempt to use the iBook as a marketing tool. The publisher said to me that it is very hard to place new books in display in the remaining physical bookstores or to get good placement for art-books in online venues. The cost of placing these copies to browse in stores was borne by the publisher. His idea here was to use the iBook for "browsing" purposes, but to offer it at the price of "a cup of coffee": here the customer pays for privilege of browsing, but at a very minimal price. The hope is that this will eventually promote sales of the printed book. In this case, we have also added the Collector's Edition, which has been selling longer & relatively well since it's introduction. The iBook just went "live" a couple days ago so it remains to be seen how people will respond. You can see it here and download the preview to your iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/serpents-chronicle/id643419564?mt=11

The publisher's site is here: http://abbeville.com/booksinsubj_new.asp?subj=new
You have to scroll down a bit to see the three editions of "Serpent's Chronicle" under the newly published offerings. Note that Abbeville has now published many of their books in various e-book formats.

Should anyone here actually be interested in the print editions, I would appreciate it if they use my site:
http://www.visiongallery.com/index.php?tPath=1_3_184_220

You can see more of the images from the series here:
http://www.visiongallery.com/index.php?tPath=1_3_184_218_314_357

Kind reviewers are welcome!

I could have easily published the iBook by myself, of course, and this was what I was initially planning on doing. Abbeville has published four of my books in the past and to my pleasure took this one on as well along with the print versions. The problem is as we all know one of distribution: how do you advertise and distribute? In the distant past I did some of this myself, but this has become much harder especially with print editions. The problem with the iBook was on which "bookshelf" do you put it where it can be seen; Apple's iTunes - iBookstore is in my opinion not well organized for finding art books. if you already know the author or title you can find anything, but if you want to look at the category of fine art or fine art photographs as opposed to the how-to stuff you're going to have trouble finding them. I am hoping that being on Abbeville's bookshelf would help overcome this problem.

All said, there are more ways to reach a larger audience today but the question is one of commercial viability. Even with a commercial publisher, you still need to do a lot of self-promotion and I really don't yet know how to do this effectively. Comments and suggestions are appreciated.

If anyone here is in Israel this summer, this series of images will be shown at the Rubin Museum in Tel-Aviv, opening July 21, 2013 and running through the end of September. The announcement is attached.

Many thanks to all for looking or commenting-

Neil
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« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2013, 07:34:10 AM »
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Having it be just an 'iBook' limits the audience.  No Android or Windows users are able to buy it, of course.  Given the difficulty of selling specialty books these days, I think any approach that effectively limits the audience isn't good. 

I'm not sure there is crossover appeal either.  That is, I'm not sure people will be enticed to buy the printed hardcopy version after viewing the ebook.  I think people who are interested in ebooks are interested in ebooks and those who are interested in printed books are interested in printed books.  Personally, it would be very unlikely that I'd buy both versions of this book (or any book, for that matter).  Now, it may be different for a true 'coffee table' type of book.  People may want the printed version and if they do, I think they'd just buy it rather than looking at the ebook first.

This is a process I've gone through recently as well so am struggling with many of the same things you are.  I wholeheartedly agreed to ebook versions because, despite the lower price and lower royalties, income is income and to turn away that market, which is rapidly growing, didn't make a lot of sense. 

I think the way to go may be to do both.  A printed version and an ebook.  But, the ebook would include enhanced content not available in a printed version.  As you've done with the audio/video content.  But not just audio or video of what's printed in the other version.  Actual enhanced, additional content.  That way I think the price of the ebook can be raised such that royalties are higher.  I know there are publishers who only put a $1 or $2 difference on ebooks.  I don't agree with that.  All else being equal, an ebook should be quite a bit less in cost than a printed book.  Apple and several publishers have been fined for price-fixing on ebooks.  So the way to raise the price is, I think, through additional content.  It's more work for the writer.  It's a bit more work for the publishing house because they have to do lay out for 2 versions rather than just port the printed version to electronic format.  But in the end, it should justify a higher price which is good for the publisher and good for the writer.
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Neil Folberg
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« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2013, 08:23:18 AM »
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Hello Bob,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. The way we did the digital version required the Apple iBook format, I am told. Perhaps you are right about no crossover- time will tell.

The story in the book is rather a complex visual tale dependent on the text for full understanding and I have found that even with fairly sophisticated audiences, seeing the video content - the narrated story video and the interview with me (this is real, added content) - assists them. And then I have seen them pick up the hardbound book and buy it. Whether that is typical or not remains to be seen.

Neil
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