Publisher Offers Titles in Multiple Formats, One-Time Price

Mar 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: General, The New Media Update

Publishers Weekly magazine reports today what may be the first offer of its kind from traditional publishing. Book publisher Thomas Nelson has launched “NelsonFree,” a program which gives readers their content in several different formats – as a hardcover book, an e-book, and an audiobook, all for the purchase price of a single volume.

Thomas Nelson is the world’s largest Christian book publisher, specializing in Bibles, inspirational works, and “conference faith events for women and teen girls.”

The first book to reach the marketplace as NelsonFree offerings are Scott McKain’s Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails, and Michael Franzese’s I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse: Insider Business Tips from a Former Mob Boss. The two books go on sale later in March, with ten more books to be released in this format throughout the rest of 2009.

Says Lynn Andriani in Publishers Weekly:

Once readers purchase a book with the NelsonFree logo, they are directed to a Web site where they register and answer a security question. They then can download an audio MP3 file and several types of e-book files, including EPub, MobiPocket and PDF. Joel Miller, v-p and publisher, business and culture, said Nelson currently has plans to release a dozen format-free books in this and related categories, and will monitor consumer response to determine whether or not it adds more titles. He also said Nelson will not raise the price of hardcovers in the NelsonFree program. “I only see the price going up if a particular project has unique added expenses in producing the audio and digital books.”

This is a welcome gesture from a publishing house. It pleasantly flies in the face of Amazon’s recent announcement that they are disabling the new Kindle’s text-to-speech functionality for some titles (so as not to negatively impact those book’s audiobook sales).

Podcast fiction enthusiasts are no strangers to the idea of receiving their books in multiple formats, many of which are free. Pioneering podcasters J.C. Hutchins, Philippa Ballentine, Mur Lafferty, Tee Morris, and Scott Sigler have been distributing their fiction in serialized (free) podcast form for many years now. These authors give their readers the advantage of advance access to their stories via their podcasts, and also generate future (paper) book sales among their dedicated audience.

Take a look at our interview with podcast author Scott Sigler, in which he says of the future of publishing:

A lot of what’s coming is the kind of things like I and the other podcast novelists are doing, or the people over at Podiobooks.com are doing, which is just give it away. Give the audience a chance to get to know you as a content creator, and as a performer, and know whether they like your stories. Then, once the audience develops that relationship and that affinity for you, then they’ll go out and buy your books, knowing that it’s going to be money well spent. They know what they’re going to get. So you’re allowing people to try it before you buy it.

And the other thing that’s really going to come into play heavily is story extensions and expansions. You’ve got your core story, which will be in the hardcover book. You’ll probably be having to give that away as a podcast, just to compete. But then there’s a lot of other things you can do. You can do the “back story” of your characters. You can do all kinds of background information. You can combine the extra podcast content with wiki content, with links to websites. The book sort of becomes the “gem in the tiara of entertainment,” if you will, instead of just the whole crown all by itself.

We are eager to see whether more traditional publishing companies will follow Thomas Nelson’s lead, and begin making their titles available in multiple formats, to accommodate readers’ (and listeners’) interest in audio and e-reader books.

Thanks to Philippa Ballentine for pointing out this news.

Photo: “On The Platform, Reading,” by moriza

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  2. Scott Sigler says:

    Good story, and I think what this publisher is doing rocks. One price, leave it up to the customer to decide how they want their content.

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