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Friday, 6 August 2010

DORCHESTER'S SHIFT TO E-BOOK and Hard Case Crime stick with paper

After the Archive reported on these events yesterday both The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly are carrying the story. We have also heard from Hard Case Crime editor, Charles Ardai who tells us that Hard Case will not be going digital:

"This does affect us, but not in the same way it affects the imprints Dorchester owns.  Since I own Hard Case Crime, I can take it to another publisher, and this is what I expect to do.  I do not have any interest in turning Hard Case Crime into an ebook line -- nothing against ebooks, but that would't be appropriate in this case." Ardai told the Archive.  "I don't have the same feeling about switching from mass-market pb to trade pb -- there are pluses and minuses to each -- but Hard Case Crime books do need to be printed on paper."

As digital books continue to gain market share, one of the country's oldest mass paperback publishers is abandoning its traditional print books and making its titles available in digital format and print-on-demand only.
Dorchester Publishing Inc., a closely held book and magazine house, said it is making the switch after its book unit sales fell 25% last year, in part because of declining orders from some of its key retail accounts, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart declined comment.

"It wasn't a long, drawn out decision, because we've been putting in the effort but not getting the results," said Dorchester Chief Executive John Prebich.
The move comes at a time when electronic-book sales are gaining popularity with readers. Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of the Idea Logical Co., publishing consultants, predicts that digital books will be 20% to 25% of unit sales by the end of 2012, up from around 8% today.
The decision to go digital could be a sign of things to come for other small publishers facing declining sales in their traditional print business. Dorchester's switch will likely result in significant savings at a time when it expects its digital sales to double in 2011

Mass market romance publisher Dorchester Publishing has dropped its traditional print publishing business in favor of an e-book/print-on-demand model effective with its September titles that are “shipping” now. President John Prebich said after retail sales fell by 25% in 2009, the company knew that 2010 “would be a defining year,” but rather than show improvement, “sales have been worse.” While returns are down, the company has had a difficult time getting its titles into stores as shelf space for mass market has been reduced, Prebich explained. Dorchester recently let its field sales force of seven go, although Tim DeYoung remains with the company as v-p of sales and marketing. The editorial team remains intact, although Prebich said the number of titles released monthly will likely be reduced from over 30 to 25. He said the schedule for 2011 is set and Dorchester has books in the pipeline through June 2012.
Dorchester will continue to do print copies for its book club business and has signed a deal with Ingram Publisher Service for IPS to do print-on-demand copies for selected titles. According to Prebich, some e-books that are doing well in the digital marketplace will be released as trade paperbacks with IPS fulfilling orders; the company, however, will not do any more mass market paperbacks for retail distribution.
Prebich said Dorchester’s e-book business has had “remarkable growth” which he expects to double again in the next year. Still, digital sales accounted for only 12% of total revenue prior to the company making the transition to the e-book/pod model. Prebich conceded that Dorchester will have lower revenues, but he expects margins to improve. He said the company is working out a new royalty rate with authors that he expects to announce next week. Editors are talking to authors now about the changes. “We hope they’ll stay,” Prebich said. Dorchester’s e-books are available at most major vendors and compatible with most platforms at an average price of $6.99. Trade paperbacks will be priced in the $12 to $15 range.
On his decision to drop the mass market format Prebich explained: “These are like pioneer times in publishing. We felt like we needed to take some chances and make a bold move."


G said...

I read somewhere that they're having problems paying royalties in a timely manner to their writers.

Michelle said...

I think future generations will embrace everything digital, but many older generations are stuck on old forms of media such as holding an actual newspaper or book in their hands.