Hilary Mantel wins the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, a novel about Thomas Cromwell. It’s a long meaty historical, apparently; the first volume of three. Which bodes well for Hild. Listen to this discussion of the book–John Crace whinges a bit, but then admits that the book doesn’t suck. (He has an amusing precis of all the short-listed novels here.)
I haven’t read the book yet. I’ve been waiting for the Kindle edition–which may or may not happen in time to maintain my interest. (What is wrong with publishers? They are so very confused about who spends what. They’re losing sales because they think ebook sales cannibalise hardcover sales. In my case they don’t. In my case the equation is simple: no Kindle edition = no sale.)
Who has read it? What do you think?
9 thoughts on “Wolf Hall wins the Booker”
Business people are strange. They seem to think if they give customers an “our way or the highway” ultimatum, that customers will cave in. I suppose that's sometimes the case, but I'm like you: I'll simply walk away rather than compromising.
Havn't read it, but it is ours, so hooray!
dianneordi, well, I'll use the library because hardcover prices are outside my budget (Kindle prices are not).
mordicai, yay! Now go box your publisher's ears: Kindle!
I haven't read the book and likely won't. But I did want to post to agree with you that if a new release isn't available for the Kindle, either on the Amazon site or as a non-DRM mobi ebook elsewhere, then it just means I don't buy that book and read something else instead. It's not like there aren't plenty of books out there to read! I never bought hardcovers before I owned the Kindle, so delayed ebook releases aren't going to get me to start now.
I think what publishers are forgetting in their worries over canibalized hardcover sales scenario is that there are a lot of people out there like me and they're actually making more money from us now than pre-Kindle. I always waited for mass markets. Now, at the $10 price (which Amazon is subsidizing, not the publishers, but they should pay attention) for new releases on the best seller list, I'll go ahead and pay a bit more so I don't have to wait for the mass market.
anonymous, yes. I don't understand why publishers don't understand this.
There may be a combination of factors at work. First is actual profit: The publishers make more money on hardbacks than trade; and more on trade than paperbacks.
The second is possibly the way bestsellers are calculated. (Being on the bestseller list increases sales.) When I worked for B&N, the bestseller list was calculated not on the number of books sold, but the number of books ordered. (Which is why, after one of the Harry Potter books sold out the first printing, it remained on the best seller lists even though there were none to sell.)
In the first case, would Kindle users be willing to pay a premium to get the Kindle edition at the same time as the hardback? (i.e. $15 instead of $10 for the first 90 days after publication?)
In the second case, would the people who put together the bestseller lists be willing to merge electronic orders with HB orders?
As to if Kindle owners are willing to pay a premium to get the ebook when the hardcover is released, it varies. Some people are like me and simply won't pay more than $10 because we never paid that much when buying paper books. We're used to waiting an extra year for the mass market version. So waiting a few weeks for a price drop is no biggie.
On the other hand, there are lots of people who predominantly bought hardcovers, so paying $15 for an ebook still seems like a good deal to them and they do pay those prices all the time. The $10 price only comes into play if the book gets on the bestseller list usually. Otherwise the prices tend to range from $14-18. Though ebook prices tend to fluctuate a lot, even on the same title. It's pretty obvious that publishers are doing a lot of experimenting with ebook pricing to determine what the market will bear.
You do make a good point about how the bestseller lists are calculated though. It doesn't matter if a couple hundred thousand copies of a new release sell as ebooks on Amazon, those copies aren't being counted for the NYT bestseller list. I read somewhere recently that the only bestseller list currently including ebook sales is the USA Today list. I'm sure this will change in the future since ebooks are here to stay and sales are increasing at an incredible rate.
It's understandable publishers want to do whatever they can to get their books on the bestseller list. But the fact still remains that most (though there are many exceptions) people who own ebook readers will not buy a paper book instead. So in the end, delays of the ebook release have no appreciable effect.
This is an enlightening discussion. As a new Kindle owner, I've been looking at building my library with past winners of prestigious prizes like the Pulitzer and the Man Booker. I've been disappointed to find that few of these prize winners are available from the Kindle store, even long after they've dropped off the best sellers lists. Can anyone explain that?
For newer books I don't know. But for older books, where older means pre-2003 give or take, the answer is usually that the digital rights for ebook versions weren't even negotiated as part of the publishing contract. It has only fairly recently become standard practice to include ebook rights.
Which means that for books where the rights weren't in the contract the publisher has to go through all that with the author or rights holder. That means time and money. So then it becomes a matter of priorities as to which books they want to get into ebook sooner rather than later.
I'm guessing they tend to prioritize backlists of authors selling well now over books that may have been prize winners, but aren't necessarily good sellers.
There are probably other factors involved as well. But that's what I know to start with.
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