No topic is more hotly debated in book circles at the moment than the timing, pricing and ultimate impact of e-books on the financial health of publishers and retailers. Publishers are grappling with e-book release dates partly because they are trying to understand how digital editions affect demand for hardcover books. A hardcover typically sells for anywhere from $25 to $35, while the most common price for an e-book has quickly become $9.99.
Until now John Grisham has not allowed any of his books to be released in electronic book form. But according to his agent, David Gernert, Mr. Grisham has not resolved how his publisher, Doubleday, should release a digital version of “Ford County,” a short story collection set for hardcover release on Nov. 3.
Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer books and the parent company of Knopf Doubleday, said that the company’s standard approach was to release e-books on the same day that a hardcover is published.
But, he said, “we do have discussions periodically about either delaying or accelerating the e-book edition” on a book-by-book basis. Imprints of Random House, in fact, have committed to releasing digital versions on the same day as the hardcovers for upcoming titles from John Irving, E. L. Doctorow and Jon Krakauer.