Konrath’s Big Score

During my DLS Day presentation, I singled out JA Konrath as an author we should pay very close attention as we examine the new business of digital distribution models. And wouldn’t you know it, he went and did something attention-worthy that same morning.

Shaken, the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Chicago Police detective Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels, is the latest acquisition from AmazonEncore, Amazon.com’s publishing arm. The book will start out as a Kindle exclusive, which you can now preorder for $2.99.

If you were listening to this instead of reading it, this is where you’d hear the record scratch sound. Didn’t Amazon lose the battle with publishers to keep Kindle titles below $9.99?

Konrath isn’t stupid. He’s done the math, and discovered that it’s far more lucrative for him to sell ebooks at the 1-3 dollar range than the 10-15. The sabermetrician in me is doffing his cap at his ability to exploit this new market niche.

But one niche I don’t see here is one for lending of ebooks. This deal with Amazon almost seems like one of those 360 deals concert behemoth LiveNation has been signing with artists like Madonna and Jay-Z. With those, Live Nation assumes total responsibility for the artist’s business – from CDs to concerts to merchandise, in exchange for a cut of all sales. Amazon is in a similar position, as they now handle the production, the sales, and the distribution of Konrath’s book. Not to mention Amazon’s considerable promotional power. Quoth Konrath:

I signed a print deal with a company that can email every single person who has every bought one of my books through their website, plus millions of potential new customers. I’ve never had that kind of marketing power behind one of my novels. I’d be an idiot not to do this.

The 360-degree deal is a win-win for Konrath and for everyone, right? Shaken gets published where it couldn’t previously, Amazon gets to thumb its nose at Macmillan and co., and readers can find out what kind of trouble Jack, Herb, and Harry are up to for a fraction of what they previously paid. But of those 360 degrees, not one of them is something that libraries can be a part of. Shaken will be available in print (again, published by Amzaon) in February 2011. But what do we do for those patrons we have that are used to downloading his stuff from our digital collection. (And yes, we have at least an ebook or e-audiobook for all 6 prior titles in the Jack Daniels series.)

Amazon has been notoriously standoffish in their dealings with libraries. If Konrath’s deal is a bellwether for other authors to follow suit, we may need to be concerned for our digital collections.

exploring the intersection of libraries, technology, and community

%d bloggers like this: