Publishers delaying e-book releases to force print sales this Christmas

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The Independent Culture

On October 21 the publisher of horror guru Stephen King announced they are postponing the release of the digital version of his latest novel, Under the Dome, in an effort to avoid the generally lower retail prices e-books generate.

Publisher Simon & Schuster will release King's 1,088-page novel in hardback form on November 10, as scheduled, but the digital version will not be available until after midnight on Christmas Eve.

Most hardcover books retail for between $25 to $35 (€17 to €23), whereas e-books are fast adopting the Amazon Kindle's standard price of $9.99 (€7). Publishers are betting that King's legion of devotees are so impatient for his latest thriller that they will pony up the sizeable difference.

The publisher of Alaskan politician Sarah Palin's memoirs, titled Going Rogue, is similarly staggering the print and digital versions, for November 17 and December 26 respectively. King's and Palin's books are currently running 1-2 on the Books Bestseller chart on Amazon.com.

Some publishers are taking the tack of not announcing any plans at all for digital books, perhaps hoping to intimidate the buying public into snatching up the hardback version. Such is the case for recently deceased American politician Ted Kennedy, whose True Compass memoir does not yet have a digital release date despite currently being no.3 on The New York Times Best Seller Hardcover Non-Fiction chart, more than one month after its release.

Publishers are fighting against discounts by major retailers as well: The publisher's price for King's and Palin's hardcover books ($35.00 and $28.99 respectively) (€23 and €19) are dwarfed by their $9.00 (€6) pre-order price at Amazon and $8.99 (€6) price at Target's website.

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