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Monday, February 11, 2008

An idea whose time has passed

According to Reuters, Random House is trying an experiment:

Random House ... is planning to test selling individual chapters of a popular book to gauge reader demand. [They] will sell the six chapters and epilogue of "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" for $2.99 each according to the report.

First: e-books have been around for years, and authors have been putting out samples on the net for ages. Not new, or innovative.

Second: it makes no sense. iTunes can bust up albums because, with very few exceptions, each track on a CD represents a standalone piece of work. Unless the book is an anthology or collection of essays, chapters themselves won't stand alone. $1 for complete work > $3 for incomplete work.

Third: who's the market for this idea? Why would someone pay three bucks for one seventh of a book when you can get the whole thing from Amazon for 16.47?

Fourth: what do you do when your more savvy competitors give out samples for free?

This strikes me as someone either a) trying to make a bad analogy with the iTunes business model or b) the person in charge of the implementation hates the idea and is making sure it tanks before it gets off the ground.

[Thanks to Dear Author.]