Why should e-books cost $15, anyway?
Good questions (and post) from David Pakman, Venrock VC and former CEO of eMusic:
Absent from most of this coverage are two main questions: a) what is the right price for eBooks and who gets to set it, and b) why are eBooks not interoperable on different devices? These questions, in my mid, are far more interesting than the ongoing struggle of publishers to adapt to Amazon’s dominance in book retailing.
Well, e-books are interoperable on different devices in the sense that Amazon’s Kindle app can display them on Kindles, iPads, iPhones, Macs, etc. But the bigger picture that Kindles can’t read Apple iBooks is, I think, what he’s getting at.
Then again, would it be better if some body — a government or publishing oversight organization — were to require all e-books to be interoperable? Wouldn’t that hinder progress? Could Apple’s amazing interactive iBooks textbooks exist if Apple had to make sure they could run on the Kindle Fire, too? Probably not.
So maybe this competition is better for the future of e-books, even if it requires some compromise on our part. (Although, unlike HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray or iTunes vs. Microsoft PlaysForSure, there isn’t yet a clear e-books format winner in a short period of time. And there may never be one.)