Release windows

Bookstore shelfReports are coming out that Amazon is selling more copies of Dan Brown’s new book for its Kindle e-reader than it is in hard-cover. There are questions to ask about the numbers and overall I understand that the book sold more than one million copies, of which electronic ones are going to be a small percentage. But considering Brown’s book was being looked to as the salvation of the retail book industry, if there’s a move among customers to e-reading even a little bit it’s worth noting.

If this turns out to be at all accurate and especially if this starts becomes a trend and picks up steam the conversation is going to shift in no time to one that mimics the movie industry’s release window model. I would not be surprised at all to start hearing about hardcover book s being released and then there being a 30 day or more window before an electronic version is available. This conversation will be driven by Borders and Barnes & Noble.

The problem is the book industry, unlike the movie studios, embraced online delivery of their product immediately. And there are differences since there’s no equivalent of theatrical release in the book world. But retailers will still see electronic versions of books as a threat to their livelihood and will work to protect their turf. There might even begin to be push-back from publishers if it turns out the margins aren’t quite as high in the electronic delivery model.

Anyway, this is something to watch.