Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Game Change and Clueless Publishers

Obama's run for the White House was always going to going to be a ripe subject for an intriguing, behind the scenes, tell-all political tome. Game Change is definitely it. Published in the US by HarperCollins and re-titled, stupidly, by Penguin as Race of a Lifetime for those of us in the British Commonwealth who couldn't       possibly relate to 'Game Change' as a title, it's an absolutely fascinating read for political junkies of all sorts.

Some observations:

First, well done Penguin Australia for getting the book out on virtually the same day (Jan 11) as the US release, and for pricing it competitvely ($32.95 for 448pp, which is today's exchange plus 10% plus GST plus price point rounding, which is the fair formula).

Second, a book like this, which pulls no punches and is full of some really unpleasant revelations about so many of the major and minor players in the Democratic and Republican campaigns, could never have been published in Australia about Australian politicians because of our restrictive defamation laws.

Third, changing the title for the Commonwealth edition virtually guarantees the book doesn't capitalise on the huge publicity Game Change is getting in the world's media. I stumbled on it in Readings by accident when I was actually looking for the title Game Change, and thinking I'd probably, once again, have to go to Amazon. As will so many other junkies.

And finally, what a mess HarperCollins have made of the ebook. They're delaying the release for six weeks so as not to allow Amazon's $9.99 price to undercut hard cover sales. This is causing a consumer revolt, as it should. Clueless in the extreme. No respect for consumer choice. This is how traditional publishing will die.


Steve Jones said...

As said by so many other people – it only takes one person to digitize the books contents and then it will be freely available on bit torrent sites and ftp servers - for free!

Just release the ebook at the same time as the hardback and don’t compromise on your pricing. There will come a point where Amazon can no longer afford to discount every ebook below cost.

Peter Donoughue said...

Agree Steve.

I intend to post more thoughts on ebook scheduling and pricing tomorrow, although the field is changing so rapidly it's hard to keep up!

Mark Rubbo said...

How annoying, though, that the UK Penguin edition has a completely different name - stupid. I'm a bookseller and I wasn't aware until you told me. I wonder if Penguin Australia are know that Race of a Lifetime, as Game Change, is on top of the NY Times bestseller list?