Digital Books and Digital Music: Parallel Futures?

Stephen Covey

Amazon.com has scored it’s first big win in securing exclusive electronic rights to publish Stephen Covey’s popular business title 7 Habits of Highly Successful People on the Amazon Kindle. As ebook competition heats up among the Kindle, Barnes and Nobel Nook and others, these companies will seek more exclusive deals with popular authors to gain an advantage for their platform.

I think the really important news, however, is Stephen Covey experimenting with self publishing his own titles, at least the electronic versions. Reportedly the royalty split is more favorable and I’m sure there are other aspects Covey gets more control over with self publishing. The music industry is already going through this right now as many artists are seeing less and less value in the traditional record company. Artists can record, produce, distribute and market their songs all on their own and keep more of the profit and control. Now we can see the first steps of this happening in the publishing world. Stephen Covey is a big name and a best seller. If he can show success with this model, others will likely follow.

It’s not as likely this self publishing senario will flow over into traditional paper bound books as there are real costs there for printing and distribution, unlike electronic books. In fact, Covey says he has no intention at this time of changing his paper book publishing setup. Popular podcast book author Scott Sigler, though, is running a very interesting self publishing experiment with his hardbound book called The Rookie. The Rookie is not the typical horror novel Scott is famous for and as such his publisher Crown Books was not interested in putting the book out. So Sigler started taking pre-orders for the book online, utilizing his lage fan base and social network marketing. Sigler was diligent, making this an exclusive limited print run at a specific price that insured everything was paid for. With some luck, Scott may make a small profit as well.

Self publishing isn’t just for blogs anymore, the whole book industry is about to go through a major disruption in the next several years. More book readers will be released. Tablet computers that may display full color magazines are likely and more. If publishing is to survive they will need to figure out how to utilize this new technology for themselves. If they grip to hard holding onto the old models, they will suffer the same fate as the music industry.