The Economics of E-Readers

Can you spot the article about literature hidden in Angelina's hairline?

Everybody (especially me) is terrified that e-readers will do to books what Napster did to the music industry. And perhaps with the recent closing of Border’s, there’s some merit to that fear.

However, my short personal experience of owning a Kindle have taught me otherwise. As I said in my last post, I’d fallen out of the habit of reading (and especially buying) novels. But now that I have a Kindle, I can’t resist the temptation. It’s instant gratification with a lasting reward.

And by gaining one marketing advantage, publishers seem to have realized another: up-selling. Here’s my anecdotal evidence:

A few days ago, I was shopping at Target, as I am wont to do. At the checkout line, I spotted a teaser for an an article in Vanity Fair:

How to Create
A LITERARY
STAR

By Keith Gessen P. 262

“I want to become a literary star,” I thought to myself as I plunked it on the conveyor belt without even glancing at the $4.99 cover price.

When I was home and halfway through through the article, I noticed a little textbox lodged into a column on page 272:

For an amplified version
of this story, download
How a Book Is Born.

For the Nook and Kindle.

I stupidly assumed that the “amplified version” would be free, since I’d already paid in bulk for a bunch of articles. And by the time, I discovered it cost $1.99, I couldn’t let that small figure keep me from literary stardom.

In the end, I paid $7 plus tax for the pleasure of reading one (1) magazine article! Now who says the publishing industry is dying?

And yes, it was worth every penny. (But only because of the free perfume samples—otherwise I’d been better off buying the $1.99 Kindle version and saving a tree.)

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