From print book, to digital book to buy by the word books. Is that the way the publishing market is going?
A few years ago, buying a book entailed going to the bookshop, browsing through print books, picking up the desired ones, carrying them to the cashier and paying for them.
Then came online book retailers, where books could be browsed through on-line, purchased with a clicks and then delivered home,
Then came the digital book, where browsing, purchasing and delivery all happened with clicks and usually costs significantly less than purchasing print books.
This is the current model that is growing fast. Yet, more changes might be in the pipeline, such as those now being developed by Yoav Lorch, founder and CEO of Total Boox who says, “The current model harms the industry. People have to pay in advance for something they don’t know.”
Though that is only partly correct, as most online book retailers enable readers to read samples of the book before buying it, it is true than many purchased books never get read to the end. Lorch is suggesting a new approach enabling the reader to only pay for what he actually read “Our application monitors reading , and the moment text appears on screen for a few seconds, we assume that the reader is reading this page at the time,” says Lorch. He adds that it is possible to thumb through a book without paying. The price is set by the publisher on the basis of the number of words actually read, and the total price is equal to the average cost of a digital book bought in the usual way.
Total Boox is still in the introduction stage, and has so far signed with just one publisher, although it is talks with some big publishers and has raised considerable funds. Total Boox offers a virtual bookstore on tablets (its platform currently only supports Android-power devices), enabling people to read books while the system calculates exactly how much they have read by reading the page number.
Lorch says that changing the book market’s business mode and changing consumer habits to first read and then pay is not Total Boox’s only news. “Bestseller lists indicate the books with the most sales, but offer no information about readers’ favorites and whether they read the book to the end. Our platform creates analytics of reading. It’s not possible to succeed in the digital world today without data analysis.”
He also predicts a conceptual change in book distribution. “You won’t need Amazon.com, Apple’s iBooks, or the publishers. They can distribute a book for free via e-mail, blogs, or their Facebook pace, and anyone can read the book for free, with the bill based on the actual amount read. This saves unnecessary expenses on publishing, marketing, and advertising,” he says. If he is right, how Amazon and other online book retailer would implement thee changes and adapt their inner search algorhythms is anyone guess at this stage, but still, it gives food for thoughts.
Aware of that sticky point anf of the challenges ahead, Lorch adds “We’re competing against Apple’s iBooks and Amazon’s Kindle,” says Lorch. “Amazon is the mammoth in the market, and it is trying to gradually kill publishers by worsening their terms. It increases the number of authors, stealing them from publishers. The publishers know that they to create an alternative because if they leave the readers to Amazon it will be a death sentence.”
So, are we heading for Pay by Words books? Future will tell J