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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Simon & Schuster to sell e-book chapters

Last week, Simon & Schuster announced that it will implement an iTunes type model and begin selling individual e-book chapters of its popular “You” series of health and wellness books. According to an article from Publishers Weekly, readers will still be able to purchase the full e-book, print book, and audio book. Simon & Schuster is planning to make the new model available for other books and will offer the e-commerce capability to other publishers and authors.

A posting on Media Bistro’s GalleyCat features commentary from Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer at Simon & Schuster. Hirschhorn said, "It represents a transformational shift from current trade publishing models... consumers may no longer have to purchase an entire book when perhaps a chapter or two will provide them with the answers they are looking for, or if they are looking to sample parts of a book before making a decision...This opens up a new world of opportunities for where and how our digital content can be distributed and sold, and we plan to expand both the chapter selling model and use of our e-commerce widget to other content categories."

As publishers experiment with new business models, college stores could begin to see more atomization of content which includes selling the chapters or portions of chapters of print or digital textbooks rather than the whole book and increasing the volume of custom course materials. A model like this could help decrease costs for students while improving sell-through for stores. Models like this could open up new funding models for course materials, allowing students to buy the class materials in a “pay-as-you-go” model, allowing students to acquire chunks of course material content as they need it throughout the semester. In addition, students may be more likely to purchase the content if they know each portion that they purchase will be actually be used in class, potentially resulting in happier faculty and better learning outcomes for students who have acquired the content required for courses.

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